Blood Transfusions Not Linked to Long-Term Problems

No evidence that cancer cells or other health conditions are spread, study finds

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FRIDAY, July 31, 2009 (HealthDay News) -- Receiving a blood transfusion for low-risk cardiac surgery doesn't appear to increase one's chances of having long-term health problems, an Australian study has found.

In the study of 1,062 people who required a transfusion before, during or after the minor heart surgery, more than 80 percent of the patients were still alive a decade after the procedure, according to the results published in the August issue of Anesthesiology.

Previous studies had hinted that immune system problems, cancer and other major health issues could arise from blood transfusions.

"Our results indicate that a moderate blood transfusion does not promote the spread of such [cancer] cells. Patients who receive a blood transfusion were no more likely to get the disease than those who did not," study author William M. Weightman, of Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Nedlands, Western Australia, said in a news release issued by the journal's publisher.

The researchers did find that several patients' preexisting conditions did affect their survival rate, including being over age 60, cerebrovascular or lung disease and preoperative anemia.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about blood transfusions.

SOURCE: American Society of Anesthesiologists, news release, July 23, 2009

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