Regular Blood Donations Have a Hidden Benefit: Study

Arm being prepped for blood donationArm being prepped for blood donation
Getty Images

A recent study in Jama Network Open suggests that donating blood or plasma could lessen harmful chemicals in blood.

Regular blood or plasma donations can result in a significant decrease in blood perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) — sometimes referred to as forever chemicals because they tend not to degrade in nature — according to a recent study by Macquarie University researchers.

Researchers tested 285 firefighters working at the ​​Fire Rescue Victoria service in Australia who donated both blood and plasma over the course of a year. 

Because of the use of firefighting foam, firefighters are known to have high exposure to PFAS, but they can be found in many household items, including paint and cookware, and have been linked to health problems including obesity, diabetes, and certain types of cancer, according to the a recent release on the study.

According to Macquarie University hematologist Robin Gasiorowski in Australia, "The results from the study show both regular blood or plasma donations resulted in a significant reduction in blood PFAS levels, compared to the control group,

"While both interventions are effective at reducing PFAS levels, plasma donations were more effective and corresponded to a 30 percent decrease."

Based on the study, researchers believe that because PFAS bind to serum proteins in the blood, reducing the amount of that blood component reduce the levels of PFAS over time. 

"While this study did not examine health effects of PFAS or the clinical benefits of its reduction in firefighters, these important questions are worthy of further research to better understand health outcomes from exposure and treatment," says Macquarie University environmental scientist Mark Taylor.

Related Stories