Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Becoming Extinct

My blood type is O-Negative.  I’m a universal donor which I was told means anyone can use my blood for a transfusion but if ever needed, I’ll need this specific blood type.  It is a actually a little more complicated than that but it is true in life-threatening situations.

In the USA, O is the most common blood type.  O-Negative isn’t the most rare but it is found in only 8% of US Caucasians, 4% of African Americans and Hispanics and 1% of Asians.  On weighted basis, that means O-Negative is found in 4.3% of the population worldwide.

My blood type is also becoming extinct.  The negative is for RH which means I don’t have a Rhesus monkey in my background, as apparently  85% of the population does.  Many think o-negative is the purest blood group. It can’t be cloned. My diet is closest to the cave man.  On one genealogical site I can trace ancestors back to Adam.  Others theorize this blood type may mean I am linked to ancient astronauts.

Okay, now I’m getting spooked!  Studies have shown however, that donating blood as little as twice at four-week intervals is linked to a drop in blood pressure, heart rate and blood sugar levels.  The subjects in these studies were obese and I don’t have those conditions but maybe it will work for those pesky triglycerides? 

Scientists determined blood types in the early 1900s.  Nazis adulterated the science to rationalize genocide.  According to author Charlotte Libov – “In World War II, Japan segregated some of its fighting units by blood type because its commanders believed that soldiers with the same blood group would work together better.”

In his mid-1990s book entitled Eat Right 4 Your Type, Dr. Peter D’Adamo devised diets and exercise for each of the major blood types and an encyclopedia linking blood types to various health conditions.

Last year Harvard University’s Dr. Lu Qi and a team of researchers published a study linking various blood types and the risk of heart disease.  Blood types, according to Libov “are determined by the differing antigens and antibodies that the blood contains.”

For example, some blood types are more susceptible to bacterial infection and others to viral.

There are actually 32 blood group systems used to identify blood type.  Last year scientists at the University of Vermont identified two new attributes that will make transfusions even more accurate.

I think all of this is to say that I need to get my butt the three miles down to the Durham Red Cross blood donation center once a month, another good excuse to clean out the pipes on the ole’ Cross Bones.  Or I could exercise.  Or eat red meat less often but that wouldn’t be very cave-man-like.

I read an article last month about “microlives” or increments of 30 minutes of life expectancy.  Statisticians at the University of Cambridge have computed the risks inherent in various habits.

Apparently, eating an extra portion of red meat a day will cut a man’s life expectancy down by about one year and is apparently much riskier by some measures at my age than riding a motorcycle.  I wonder what it is for those of us with an O-Negative blood type?

In an article this month by Frank Bures entitled The Rewards of Risk in The Rotarian magazine, he writes in part about the studies of risk-taking by Dr. Frank Farley at Temple University and their role in our lives.

Farley divides personalities into categories of “T” for thrill.  “Big T” people, whether “T-mental” or “T-physical,” seek challenges and enjoy the thrill of seeing what they can do.  A few, unfortunately, veer into “T-negative” things such as gambling and crime.

“Then,” Bures notes, “there are what Farley calls “small-t” types – people who are risk-adverse, who let their lives be circumscribed by what they fear: failure, loss, humiliation, pain.”  He notes that 18% of the US population is affected by anxiety or the fear of possible future misfortune, a rate five times that of a third world country.

I guess, for some, I may be considered a “Big T” person, even though I’ve been retired now for three years.

I’ve spent a lot of time on a Harley, learned enough to fly an airplane, researched and written more than 860 essays such as this (Big-T mental, at least for me,) taken four-6,000-mile east-west cross-country trips with my Mugs, my English bulldog and four north-south trips with a friend.

I’ve also spent as much time as I can with family, especially my daughter and grandsons.  I treasure speaking with her several times a week as she drives to her work as a healthcare attorney or waits for the boys during an activity.

I haven’t even touched a number of other passions and interests yet, but life in so-called retirement has been rich and rewarding, so I am very blessed.

There are some things I need to do less, like eating red meat, and some things I need to do more, such as exercise.  Regarding the later, I am either a “small-t” or just lazy.

But I hope I can keep “letting go of life’s handrails” as Dr. Farley puts it because as Bures concludes in his article – “Not taking risks along the way is the biggest risk of all.”

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