Surprise: Drinking Blood is Not Good For You
With Halloween having just passed, the seasonal enthusiasm for monsters and ghouls will now begin to wane. People in Denver will stop worrying about ghosts. Mummies will be forgotten. Doctors will once again be the only ones interested in skeletons, and vampiric bloodsuckers will only be relevant in romance novels and phlebotomy schools.
Or will they? Of all monsters, Americans seem to particularly favor vampires. They rule in popular culture as the undisputed kings and queens of alternative Goth-coolness. Indeed, some people in Denver and elsewhere take their vampire obsession so far that they actually begin drinking human blood. As far as alternative lifestyles go, vampirism might be interesting and exciting, but it’s potentially hazardous to your health.
Students learn in phlebotomy schools that blood contains sizeable amounts of iron. Enough to actually be poisonous when consumed in large quantities. Blood is great when it stays in the places where it belongs: the heart, veins, arteries and so forth, but when it pools in the stomach, the potential health consequences are disconcerting.
“While iron is necessary for all animals (and indeed most life), in high doses it can be toxic,” says science writer Benjamin Radford. “This condition, called hemochromatosis, can cause a wide variety of diseases and problems, including liver damage, buildup of fluid in the lungs, dehydration, low blood pressure, and nervous disorders.”
The Nature of the Beast
Some animals have evolved to process the iron in blood. The vampire bat lives primarily in South America, seldom found as far north as Denver. The vampire bat is equipped by nature to process large quantities of iron. Without blood, the bat would actually be iron-deficient, but even with its anemic tendencies it still has to excrete large amounts of leftover iron.
Anybody who has graduated from one of America’s phlebotomy schools can tell you that humans don’t have the same capability. Blood is poison. Ingesting it is a bad idea.