APR 21, 2017 07:57 AM PDT

What does your blood type mean for your health?

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You probably know your blood type and why it is important - that information is lifesaving in certain situations. But do you know what your specific blood type means about your overall health?

For example did you know that people with type O blood fare better with malaria and worse with cholera than people with A, B, or AB blood types? Why is this? Well we know that your blood type is determined by the absence or presence of a specific type of antigen, which is a sugar, on your red blood cells. But in addition to the A and B antigens, we also have H antigens. All of these antigens can be found everywhere in your body, not just on red blood cells, and they interact with toxins and pathogens in your body to make you either more or less vulnerable to diseases (i.e. malaria and cholera). Certain characteristics of pathogens and the various antigens make some people more likely to suffer from severe cases, while others get away with just a sick day.

The antigens of your blood type can also affect your risk for heart disease. This happens through something called the von Willebrand factor, which is a protein that helps your blood clot. While we do need our blood to clot so that we don't bleed out from a paper cut, clotting blood in certain circumstances (near arteries) can cause big issues. And people with A and B antigens (so A, B, or AB blood) on the van Willebrand factor proteins make clearing clots trickier. That's why people with type O blood are less likely to have heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes! What else does your blood type tell you about your general health? Watch the video!
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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