What your blood type says about you
You can change your workouts and your diet. But there’s nothing you can do to change your blood type, which is determined by microscopic substances – inherited from your parents – that live on the surface of your red blood cells.
Those surface substances interact with your immune system in ways that change your risk for several common diseases. So depending on whether you’re type A, B, AB, or O, you may be more or less likely to suffer from heart trouble, cancer, and several other maladies.
There are four main blood groups (types of blood): A, B, AB and O. Your blood group is determined by the genes you inherit from your parents.
Your blood group is identified by antigens and antibodies in the blood. Antibodies are part of your body’s natural defences against invading substances such as germs.
Antigens are protein molecules found on the surface of red blood cells. Antibodies are proteins found in plasma. Antibodies recognise anything foreign in your body and alert your immune system to destroy it.
Here’s what your blood type could mean for you:
- If you have blood type A
Type A only has A antigens on red cells and B antibodies in the plasma, if you have type A blood, you can donate red blood cells to types A and AB.
The makeup of a person’s antigens on red blood cells can determine how much of a certain hormone gets released. If you have type A blood, you’re more likely to have higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol in your body. There are a number of health risks that are associated with type A blood, such as a 20 percent higher chance of developing stomach cancer compared to types O and B, and a 5 percent increased risk for heart disease compared to those with type O.
In addition, if you have type A blood, you are at higher risk for several types of cancer, such as some forms of pancreatic cancer and leukemia; according to the BBC, you are also more prone to smallpox infections and severe malaria. Ironically, those with type A also have been found to be less magnetic to mosquitoes – so there’s reason to rejoice!
- If you have blood type B
If you have type B blood, you only have the B antigens on red cells and A antibodies in the plasma, you can donate red blood cells to those with types B and AB blood.
Those with type B have an 11 percent increase in risk of heart disease over those with type O. A study at Harvard University found that women with AB or B blood have a raised risk of developing ovarian cancer, but if you have type B, it’s not all bad news. Those with type B blood have up to 50,000 times the number of strains of friendly bacteria than people with either type A or O blood, which means all kinds of good things.
- If you have blood type AB
Those with AB blood have both A and B antigens on red cells, but neither A nor B antibody in the plasma. If you have AB positive blood, you are universal plasma donor.
People with type AB have been found to have a 23 percent increased risk of heart disease over those with type O blood. Having AB blood may double the liklihood that a pregnant mother will suffer from the blood pressure condition called pre-eclampsia.
One intriguing blood type study published in the journal Neurology found that those with type AB blood were 82 percent more likely to have cognitive difficulties — specifically in areas like memory recall, language and attention — than people with other blood types. The researchers suspect that the clotting protein known as coagulation factor VIII is to blame. “Since factor VIII levels are closely linked to blood type, this may be one causal connection between blood type and cognitive impairment,” said study author Mary Cushman.
- If you have blood type O
If you fall into the O blood group, you have neither A nor B antigens on your red cells, but both A and B antibodies in your plasma. O positive is the most common blood type, O negative is the universal donor type, meaning those with this blood type can donate red blood cells to anybody.
For those with type O, it’s a mixed bag. If you have type O, you are more likely to get ulcers – and believe it or not, to rupture your Achilles tendons. You are also at higher risk of cholera. The good news is that people with type O blood are at a lower risk for pancreatic cancer and face a lower risk of dying from malaria than people with other blood groups, that said, is you have type O, you are twice as likely to be a mosquito magnet than those with type A blood.