According to a recent study published in JAMA Network Open, donating blood may improve a donor’s health by reducing the number of “forever chemicals” in the blood. Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS, are found in household items ranging from waterproof fabrics to non-stick pans, The Guardian reported.
PFAS can contaminate water, air, soil, crops and animal products — ultimately finding their way into blood, bones and the tissue of living creatures. As these substances do not degrade over time, they accumulate inside the body — impairing the immune system, increasing a person’s risk of liver disease, obesity, thyroid disorders and certain cancers in the process.
“This randomized clinical trial showed that regular blood or plasma donations result in a significant reduction in serum PFAS levels for participants,” according to the study.
A total 285 Australian firefighters — who are regularly exposed to PFAS through firefighting foam — were tracked within the study, where they were split into groups that donated plasma every six weeks or blood every 12 weeks for over a year. A third group was used a control for the experiment.
The firefighters that donated blood reduced their PFAS levels by 10%, while plasma donors reduced their PFAS levels by 30%. Both groups retained their lower PFAS levels for a minimum of three months after the experiment completed.
The use of blood and plasma donations with higher levels of PFAS is a “big controversy,” according to study co-author Dr. Bruce Lanphear. The Red Cross, however, did not express much concern.