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What are causes of anemia other than lack of iron?

Related Topics: Anemia, Iron

Answers From Experts & Organizations (1)

5,093 Answers
267,387 Helpful Votes

Some of the most common reasons anemia develops, other than lack of iron, are:

  • Vitamin B12 deficiency may cause pernicious anemia. This type of anemia could happen in people who are unable to absorb vitamin B12 from their intestines due to a number of reasons:

    • Strict vegetarians who may not be taking adequate vitamin supplements.
    • Long-term alcoholics.

This typically causes macrocytic (large cell volume) anemia. Vitamin B12, along with folate, is a involved in making the heme molecule that is an integral part of hemoglobin. Folate deficiency can be the culprit. This may also be caused by inadequate absorption, under-consumption of green, leafy vegetables, and also long-term heavy alcohol use.

  • There can be rupture of red blood cells (hemolytic anemia) due to antibodies clinging to the surface of the red cells (for example, hemolytic disease of the newborn, and in many other conditions).
  • A wide assortment of bone marrow diseases can cause anemia.

    • For example, cancers that spread (metastasize) to the bone marrow, or cancers of the bone marrow (such as leukemia or multiple myeloma) can cause the bone marrow to inadequately produce red blood cells, resulting in anemia.
    • Certain chemotherapy for cancers can also cause damage to the bone marrow and decrease red blood cell production, resulting in anemia.
    • Certain infections may involve the bone marrow and result in bone marrow impairment and anemia.
    • Finally, patients with kidney failure may lack the hormone necessary to stimulate normal red blood cell production by the bone marrow.
  • Another common cause of anemia is called anemia of chronic disease. This could typically occur in individuals with long-standing chronic diseases.
  • Some medications can cause anemia in a variety of ways.
  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) can cause anemia.

This answer should not be considered medical advice...down arrowThis answer should not be considered medical advice and should not take the place of a doctor’s visit. Please see the bottom of the page for more information or visit our Terms and Conditions.up arrow

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Archived: March 20, 2014

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