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Age-related anemia hastens death

From San Diego, at a meeting of the American Society of Hematology

People whose blood concentrations of hemoglobin decrease as they age are at elevated risk for serious ailments and early death, researchers have found.

Anemia, an inadequate supply of oxygen-carrying hemoglobin, is rare among young and middle-age people and generally develops from a nutritional deficiency or an identifiable health problem, such as a cancer. But previous research suggested that anemia affects about one-eighth of people over age 70. Many of these anemia sufferers have hemoglobin concentrations just shy of the normal range and are never diagnosed with the condition.

To probe the health consequences of age-related anemia, Brenda Penninx of Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., and her colleagues analyzed hemoglobin concentrations in 3,607 people older than 70 years.

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