Your blood type could have a major impact on your brain as you age, researchers have found. They found those with an ‘O’ blood type have more grey matter in their brain than those with ‘A’, ‘B’ or ‘AB’ blood types. This helps protect against diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
The study conducted by researchers at the University of Sheffield is the first to reveal that blood types play a role in the development of the nervous system and may cause a higher risk of developing cognitive decline. The research was carried out in collaboration with the IRCCS San Camillo Hospital Foundation in Venice.
Research fellow Matteo De Marco and Professor Annalena Venneri, from the University’s Department of Neuroscience, made the discovery after analyzing the results of 189 Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans from healthy volunteers.
They calculated the volumes of grey matter within the brain and explored the differences between different blood types. The results, published in The Brain Research Bulletin, show that individuals with an ‘O’ blood type have more grey matter in the posterior proportion of the cerebellum.
In comparison, those with ‘A’, ‘B’ or ‘AB’ blood types had smaller grey matter volumes in temporal and limbic regions of the brain, including the left hippocampus, which is one of the earliest part of the brain damaged by Alzheimer’s disease. These findings indicate that smaller volumes of grey matter are associated with non-‘O’ blood types.
As we age a reduction of grey matter volumes is normally seen in the brain, but later in life this grey matter difference between blood types will intensify as a consequence of ageing.
“The findings seem to indicate that people who have an ‘O’ blood type are more protected against the diseases in which volumetric reduction is seen in temporal and mediotemporal regions of the brain like with Alzheimer’s disease for instance,” said Matteo DeMarco. “However additional tests and further research are required as other biological mechanisms might be involved.”
Professor Annalena Venneri said: “What we know today is that a significant difference in volumes exists, and our findings confirm established clinical observations. In all likelihood the biology of blood types influences the development of the nervous system. We now have to understand how and why this occurs.”
But researchers said more studies are needed to figure out what other biological mechanisms may be at play.
The results from the new study mirrored 2014 research that also looked at blood type and brain function. That study, by researchers at the University of Vermont, found that those with the rare AB blood type, present in less than 10 percent of the population, have a higher than average risk of cognitive problems as they age.
People with the rare AB blood group are more likely to develop memory loss, a study has found. U.S. researchers found that people with the rare blood type were 82 per cent more likely to develop thinking and memory problems that can lead to dementia, than people with other blood types.
But you shouldn’t panic if you don’t have the O blood type, experts say. Studies suggest that you can help grow gray matter through meditation and a healthy diet.