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Blood draw for iron overload prevention?
Old 06-24-2014, 03:58 PM   #1
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Blood draw for iron overload prevention?

For those who were on the Motley Fool Retire Early forum, you may recall a frequent poster there (whose moniker I can't recall) -- he was Costa Rican and often worked doing temporary assignments as a medical doctor in the US.

I remember that this doctor wrote of having his blood drawn regularly (a pint each time, perhaps 4X/year) to reduce the build-up of iron in his body. In the ensuing discussion, he also advocated this practice for all men and post-menospausal women.

I just searched online and found this NIH page on hemochromatosis What Is Hemochromatosis? (Printer-Friendly)

"Hemochromatosis is one of the most common genetic disorders in the United States. However, not everyone who has hemochromatosis has signs or symptoms of the disease.
Estimates of how many people develop signs and symptoms vary greatly. Some estimates suggest that as many as half of all people who have the disease don't have signs or symptoms.
The severity of hemochromatosis also varies. Some people don't have complications, even with high levels of iron in their bodies. Others have severe complications or die from the disease."

I'm hoping that informed posters here will chime in on whether this practice of having one's blood drawn regularly as a preventive measure makes sense for the general population or only if one has been diagnosed as having this condition?

If one donates blood regularly, I'd assume that this would also serve as reducing the iron in one's system.


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Old 06-24-2014, 04:06 PM   #2
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Just because it is a common genetic disorder, does not mean it is common among the general population. If it was really common, there would be an article every month in the mainstream media about getting your leech treatment and all the tanning salons, nail salons, and so on would be like oyster bars with different varieties of leeches from various locales for folks to impress their colleagues with.

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Old 06-24-2014, 04:09 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by omni550 View Post
For those who were on the Motley Fool Retire Early forum, you may recall a frequent poster there (whose moniker I can't recall) -- he was Costa Rican and often worked doing temporary assignments as a medical doctor in the US.
Galeno. He is a member here who posts occasionally.

More on the subject of "bloodletting":

The ancient practice of bloodletting might offer cardiovascular benefits to obese people with metabolic syndrome, a new study published today in the journal BMC Medicine suggests.
A Brief History of Bloodletting — History in the Headlines
Numbers is hard

Although rare, it is possible to read something on this forum you don't agree with and simply move on with your life

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Old 06-24-2014, 08:50 PM   #4
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My father told me a several years ago to check because his brother had it and told my dad to tell family members as it is hereditary. I can't remember if my dad had it or not too but he got some blood drawn out and it never came back. Anyways I got tested and my iron was too high also. I must have not been paying attention because I swear the doctor said I didn't have it, but then a few years later he said either I had it or was a carrier (that wasn't the term but something like that). I would have freaked out if I was paying attention so I guess it's better I didn't know. Anyhow, I give blood now a few times a year and my iron levels have been fine every since. I didn't realize iron could be such a nasty thing. No vitamins with iron, Geritol or liver for me!

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Old 06-24-2014, 08:51 PM   #5
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It is the standard way of getting rid of excess iron. And as you get older it becomes easier to get too much iron. Senior multivitamins do not contain iron for that reason. Some foods have added iron, so you may need to be a little careful.

When I complained about the 12 vials of blood they took at my last lab draw, the doc said that's OK, it just helps get rid of that excess iron. Not much sympathy. On the other hand, I got a laugh at his expense when he described how upset he was that his doctor had gone concierge. He has been (a fairly inexpensive) concierge practice for a couple of years now.
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Old 06-26-2014, 06:37 AM   #6
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I donate blood regularly (well, I'll start again as soon as my one-year deferral due to the bone grafts for my dental implants is up) so I guess I'm covered. I know that that's not an option for many here; the list of reasons they defer you (including an extensive list of prohibited meds) just keeps growing and growing. If you can donate, though, it's free and convenient, and you get cookies afterwards!

DH has polycythemia. His bone marrow makes too many red blood cells, so they monitor his red cell counts regularly. He's on medications but tomorrow he goes in for a phlebotomy, where they take out a pint of blood and replace it with saline solution. Unfortunately, all that lovely iron-rich blood has to be thrown away, since there's no way to prove that it would be harmless if donated.
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Old 06-26-2014, 07:04 AM   #7
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Hemochromatosis is pretty rare. Probably less than 1% even in the population at high risk which are those from the the British Isles and northern Europe. Iron deficiency anemia, on the other hand, is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the world. Unless, one has been diagnosed with the condition and your caregivers suggest that you are someone who would benefit, I would keep the leeches in the jar!

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