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Effects of High Hemoglobin on Cancer | Hematology BMT

Hemoglobin is an iron-rich protein that helps red blood cells carry oxygen to your body. Sometimes due to some extreme reasons, our body produces more hemoglobin which can lead to some other complications. This can cause problems, like tiredness, weakness, and shortness of breath. Don’t worry! Below we explain everything you need to know about high hemoglobin and its effects on cancer.

What is High Hemoglobin?

Hemoglobin, or Hb, is a protein that is found in red blood cells and helps circulate oxygen throughout your body. Hemoglobin is also responsible for transporting carbon dioxide from your tissues back to your lungs. It is also responsible for bringing oxygen to your brain and heart if you need it.

Normal Hemoglobin Levels for Adults: Males 14 to 18 g/dL and females 12 to 16 g/dL. When the hemoglobin levels reach more than 16.6 g/dL it is considered high HB.

Male adultAbove 16.5 g/dL
Female adultAbove 16 g/dL
ChildAbove 16.6 g/dL
InfantAbove 18 g/dL

A normal hemoglobin level indicates that your red blood cells have enough oxygen to deliver to your body’s tissues and transport carbon dioxide from your tissues to your lungs. Sometimes due to high altitude or the requirement for more oxygen, our body produces more hemoglobin to balance the oxygen level in the body.

What are the symptoms of high hemoglobin?

The symptoms of high HB can range from mild to severe, but they all share a common theme: an increased risk for serious health problems. Some common symptoms of high HB include

  • Headaches
  • Swelling in joints
  • Dizziness
  • Hyperhidrosis (More sweating)
  • Sometimes show signs of jaundice
  • Fatigue
  • Sudden weight loss

When you see these above symptoms consult with Doctor immediately before it’s too late.

What Causes Hemoglobin to be Too High?

There are a number of different medical conditions that can affect the way your body produces hemoglobin. They can affect your ability to make new red blood cells or lower the number of red blood cells that are in your bloodstream. Hemoglobin can also be affected by certain environmental or lifestyle factors that lower the amount of oxygen in your bloodstream.

  • Polycythemia vera is a disease that causes your bone marrow to overproduce red blood cells. It can be a sign of a serious condition known as myeloproliferative disorder (the general term for blood cancer).
  • Smoking is another reason for high HB.
  • People who live at high altitudes have high HB because their bodies produce more red blood cell production in order to balance oxygen levels in the body.
  • Kidney cancer, Liver cancer, Pulmonary fibrosis, and Emphysema are some factors that can also lead to high HB.

Effects of High Hemoglobin on Cancer

It is not clear that high HB increases the chances of cancer but lower hemoglobin sometimes leads to cancer. Some types of cancer may affect how well your body produces or destroys red blood cells. For example, kidney cancer can interfere with the hormone that tells your bone marrow to make red blood cells. Other types of cancers that metastasize to the bone marrow can also lower your hemoglobin.

Cancer treatment can also lead to anemia, especially if you have had surgery or a lot of radiation. Your doctor can treat this with iron therapy or a medication that raises your hemoglobin level.

Hemoglobin levels can also be affected by a condition called polycythemia vera, which is a type of cancer that causes your bone marrow to produce too many red blood cells. This can lead to anemia and may also cause other health problems.

How to diagnose?

Based on your reasons for high HB your doctor can diagnose your high HB with a blood test called a complete blood count (CBC). You may need other tests to check your organ function and vitamin and mineral levels, too.

The results of your CBC will show your number of red blood cells and how much hemoglobin you have. You will also get a number of other results, such as hematocrit and oxygen saturation.

Treatment for high HB

If you have cancer, your cancer care team will watch your hemoglobin level closely to see if it is causing any problems. If it is, they will talk with you about the different treatment options available and which ones will be best for your particular situation. Treatment options include Medications and Phlebotomy.

  • Medications – Doctors prescribed some medication that balances your hemoglobin.
  • Phlebotomy – When the condition is worse doctors use the phlebotomy treatment options. Doctors will inject some needles or you can say syringes to release some blood in order to reduce high HB.

Check out the blog related High white blood cell count and cancer.


Hemoglobin medication and treatment is very crucial to keep up with good health. Compromising on this ground is not at all recommended. Dr. S. K. Gupta being the most talented and experienced Oncologist suggests people to focus on hemoglobin test and treatment. Proper guidance on this can be taken from the Hematology BMT doctor. Get in touch with the doctor to know more. 

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