The association between blood type and disease dates back to the early 1900s. Recent progress in the field of technology, biochemistry and genetics has shed light on how blood group antigens can be associated with disease risks.

Furthermore, a review on the association between ABO blood group system and diseases pointed out that the ABO blood group plays a key role in diseases such as cardiovascular, neoplastic and infectious disorders.

Heart disease

A research presented at the 4th World Congress on Acute Heart Failure revealed that having a non-O blood group is associated with a 9% increased risk of coronary events and 9% increased risk of cardiovascular events. In the study, which involved over one million subjects, researchers analysed the association between blood group and all coronary events, combined cardiovascular events, and fatal coronary events.

According to researchers, the higher risk may be due to greater concentrations of von Willebrand factor. Non-O blood group carriers – particularly individuals with an A blood group – are also known to have higher cholesterol.

Furthermore, galectin-3 which is linked to inflammation and worse outcomes in heart failure patients is also higher in those with a non-O blood group.


In a study published in March 2009, researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute confirmed the link between blood type and the risk of developing pancreatic cancer. Findings from the study showed that people with blood types A, B or AB were more likely to develop the disease, compared to those with O blood type.

More specifically – based on the results – individuals with type A blood group had a 32% higher chance of incurring pancreatic cancer, while those with type AB had a 51% higher chance, and those with type B had a 72% higher chance, in comparison with participants with type O blood.

Within the entire group, 17% of pancreatic cancers were attributable to inheriting a non-O blood group. One explanation is that blood-type antigens may affect the level of inflammatory proteins in a person’s blood, and chronic inflammation has been linked to the risk of pancreatic cancer.

Pregnancy complications

Several studies have also pointed to the evidence regarding the influence of ABO blood type status on the risk of developing pregnancy complications.

A 2012 study that explored this association found that individuals with AB blood group have the highest risks of gestational hypertensive disorders, pre-eclampsia and severe pre-eclampsia; whereas women with O blood group have the lowest risks of developing these disorders. The study was conducted by Lee BK from Drexel University School of Public Health and four other researchers.

In addition, a review of existing data found that the risk of venous thromboembolism is higher (approximately two-fold increased risk) in non-O blood type subjects. However, this is not the case with gestational diabetes, as no significant association was found between the ABO blood group and the risk of developing the disease.

In conclusion, the association between blood type and diseases can help healthcare professionals consider risk assessments and intervention strategies for individuals at risk of developing health complications. Indeed, these findings warrant further research to identify the specific causes and mechanisms that explain the various health risks associated with the non-O blood group. MIMS

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