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Blood Transfusion Promotes Cancer Progression in Rats

Erythrocytes stored for at least nine days appear to have the most significant mediating effect

TUESDAY, Nov. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Blood transfusion may promote cancer progression, but fresh blood appears to be less harmful than stored blood, according to the results of an animal study published in the December issue of Anesthesiology.

Shir Atzil, of Tel Aviv University in Tel Aviv, Israel, and colleagues studied the effects of blood transfusions on Fischer 344 rats with two syngeneic tumor models: MADB106 mammary adenocarcinoma and CRNK-16 leukemia.

In both models, the researchers found that blood transfusion was a significant and independent predictor of cancer progression, was associated with an up to fourfold increase in lung tumor retention and doubled mortality rates, and that the critical determinant was blood storage time. In a surprise finding, they determined that erythrocytes stored for at least nine days -- and not older leukocytes or soluble factors -- were responsible for mediating these effects.

"Further studies should address mediating mechanisms through which erythrocytes' storage-duration can impact the rate of complications while treating malignant diseases and potentially other pathologies," the authors conclude.

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