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Blood transfusions suppress the immune system

"Eliezer Ben-Joseph", May 1, 2012

Blood transfusions are a routine part of medical practice, especially during surgery – but they suppress the immune system and could even produce a worse outcome for the patient.

Patients who have a transfusion during surgery for their cancer are 42 per cent more likely to develop cancer again, say researchers from John Hopkins University. This is because a transfusion suppresses the immune system, so increasing the chances of infection, pneumonia – and cancer.

Transfusions are an unquestioned part of medicine that have been carried out through the generations – but careful analysis shows that they cause more harm than good, say the researchers.

They should be reserved for emergencies such as trauma or hemorrhage when they can be a lifesaver.

(Source: Anesthesiology, 2012; doi: 10.1097/ALN.0b013e318255e550).