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Health Team

Blood types carry different risks, benefits, doctors say

Posted December 27, 2016

Can your blood type help you lose weight?

Which type can expect a lower risk of heart disease or carry a higher risk of memory problems?

Many people don't know what their blood type is. It's either type A, type B, a combination called type AB or type O. But what makes those types different is a microscopic bit of protein on the surface of a red blood cell called an antigen.

A second antigen—called the RH factor—determines whether your blood type is positive or negative.

Experts with WebMD say different blood types can have an effect on your life.

People with type O blood have a lower risk of heart disease, according to WebMD. Type O is the most common blood type in Americans with 43 percent of the country represented.

Less than 10 percent of people have type AB, which comes with a higher risk of heart disease.

People with type AB blood are also more likely to develop memory problems, such as dementia, while type O has the lowest risk of the condition.

Those people with type O-negative blood can donate blood to anyone in an emergency, but experts say its best to receive blood from someone with the same type if you need a transfusion.

While O-negative can be given to anyone, there is a limited supply: Only 7 percent of people in the U.S. have O-negative blood.

Blood recipients with AB-positive blood can receive a transfusion from anyone, making them a universal recipient. The AB-positive blood has all the antigens—A, B and Rh.

For people looking to lose weight, there are no studies to show that foods have any health effects on specific blood types.

For pregnant women, your Rh factor may be important to know. If you are Rh-negative, it could cause problems by attacking the baby's blood cells if the baby is Rh-positive. It's known as Rhesus disease.

Knowing this through a blood test, your doctor can prescribe a medication to prevent it.

Doctors say that anyone can be a blood donor, and the holidays are always a critical time for blood donation centers.

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