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Fresh Blood

January 22, 2009

Using fresher blood for transfusions may make a difference to some patients.


When new blood really matters. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Some studies have found that cancer patients who get blood transfusions fare worse than other cancer patients. Now, a study in rats suggests that the age of the blood might be the key. Neuroimmunologist Shamgar Ben-Eliyahu led the research at Tel Aviv University in Israel. His team tested the effects of blood transfusions on the animals’ resistance to cancer.

SHAMGAR BEN-ELIYAHU (Tel Aviv University, Israel):
What we found was that in rats, the longer you store the blood, the more harmful it becomes.

Blood that was less than nine days old was fine. But beyond that, the older the blood, the greater the chance that (the) cancer would spread and kill – even when the stored blood was the animal’s own. Since human blood is stored for up to 42 days, Ben-Eliyahu says it’s time to take a fresh look at human medical records from this perspective. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.