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Half of urban Indian males are anaemic

Updated: Feb 18, 2019

urban Indian

You don’t believe this heading, do you? Well, I won’t blame you if you didn’t, for the simple reason that for years and even decades, the dictum in clinical medicine in India has been that a male cannot be anemic unless he is bleeding somewhere, say like in piles. The other side of the coin was that if you are a female, you are bound to be anaemic because you lose blood in menstruation and don’t get enough iron through food to replenish your iron stores. These rules of the thumb are largely applicable even today, but there are deviations cropping up steadily, forcing us to rethink the issue of anaemia in the not-so-new millennium.

If you are an urban Indian male, chances are you are generally healthy, well-educated and gainfully employed with a middle-class or upper-middle-class demographic profile characterised by a smart life style. Such an individual is expected to take care of his own diet and nutrition, so much so that iron deficiency anaemia should not occur at all. Right? Wrong!

A leading global diagnostic chain (SRL Diagnostics) carried out a three-year long survey from 2012 to 2014 in which a total of 30 lakhs of Indian urban males were screened for haemoglobin levels and blood cell count. The results were an unpleasant surprise. The so-called healthy cum smart adult Indian male was suffering from anaemia not dissimilar to that of his female counterpart to the tune of 43.5%. The older you are (over 45 years of age), the greater the risk of anaemia.

According to the study leader, “there is a significant need for reaching out and making people aware of the causes, symptoms, treatment and importance of testing for anaemia. Most of the cases of anaemia are observed in infants and pregnant women. But SRL’s study on men has changed the perception as the result revealed that more men are prone to this disorder. SRL Diagnostic’s in-house data analysis on anaemia tests assessed the nationwide abnormalities among men residing in various cities that represent diverse geographic origin, occupation, socio-economic status and food habits. Interestingly, it is also believed that excessive drinking of tea can cause anaemia in both men and women, (probably due to tannin which binds with iron and slows down its absorption).”


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