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Blood Type Matters More Than We Give it Credit For

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Do you know off the top of your head what your blood type is? If you don’t, you’re not alone, but I recommend asking your parent or doctor what it is. We all have a determined blood type, and if you aren’t sure what yours is, there’s great reason to find out: science suggests our blood type may make a difference when it comes to

You wouldn’t know it by looking on the surface, but coursing through your veins every second of every day are tiny variations that categorize your blood into one of these groups: A+, A-, B+, B-, O-, O+, AB+ and AB-.Unless you’ve donated blood, were given a transfusion or found out during , maybe you’ve never thought twice about your blood type and what it means for your health.

Knowing your blood type not only can be crucial when in an emergency, but it can also offer some important insight into your health. Ongoing research into blood type suggests it may matter more than we give it credit for — at least when assessing risk for certain health conditions, especially .These invisible differences in the blood may give some people an edge at staving off cardiovascular problems, and may leave others more susceptible.

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What does blood type mean, and how are they different?

The letters A, B and O represent various forms of the ABO gene, which program our blood cells differently to form the different blood groups. If you have type AB blood, for example, your body is programmed to produce A and B antigens on red blood cells.A person with type O blood doesn’t produce any antigens.  

Blood is said to be “positive” or “negative” based on whether there are proteins on the red blood cells. If your blood has proteins, you’re . 

Photo illustration of a doctor sitting in front of a large blood droplet with the blood types surrounding it

The ABO system is the best known way of classifying blood types.

Ekachai Lohacamonchai/EyeEm/Getty Images

People with type O- blood are considered “” because their blood doesn’t have any antigens or proteins, BBC World News Today meaning anybody’s body will be able to accept it in an emergency.

But why are there different blood types?Researchers don’t fully know, but factors such as and past infections which spurred protective mutations in the blood may have contributed to the diversity, according to Dr. Douglas Guggenheim, a hematologist with Penn Medicine. People with type O blood may get sicker with , for example, while people with type A or B blood may be more likely to experience blood clotting issues. While our blood can’t keep up with the different biological or viral threats going around in real time, it may reflect what’s happened in the past.

“In short, it’s almost like the body has evolved around its environment in order to protect it as best as possible,” Guggenheim said.

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