A Cultural History of Anemia


Kristin Devine

Kristin is a geek, a libertarian, and a domestic goddess. She lives in a wildlife refuge in rural Washington state with too many children and way too many animals and works with women around the world as a fertility counselor. There's also a blog which most people would very much disapprove of https://atomicfeminist.com/

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7 Responses

  1. Yikes, I changed this from 2019 to 2020 assuming that it would be published in a few days!! You clever folks can figure out what year I’m talking about of course.Report

  2. Avatar Mark says:

    Iron has significant biological toxicity. It is also a growth factor supporting bacterial proliferation. We only absorb a small fraction of dietary iron in order to prevent the toxicity of this element and its stimulatory effect on bacteria. Men are able to recycle almost all of their iron, but women lose iron with menses and reproduction. Does this biology translate into cultural impacts on women? Worth discussing. We tend to have an ideal image of men as strong and women as weak. Do we weaken women to get this picture? I have read that some primitive tribes have taboos on foods for pregnant women that aggravate the situation.Report

  3. Avatar Murali says:

    We should try to do intercultural dietary comparisons. Did women in cultures which did not develop such stereotypes of women have better iron intake than those in cultures which did? (Though other causes of iron deficiency would be a significant confounder)Report

  4. Avatar Mikkhi Kisht says:

    A couple years back, my doctors started chasing a medical ghost. I had several of the symptoms of iron based anemia, but my iron count wasn’t anywhere near low. At one point I was being asked if I was exaggerating my symptom descriptions since all their tests said something was odd but not what the source was (or if there was a legit source.) Half a year of ‘well we know what it isn’t’ results, a new doc sent me for a different test which showed the problem. I have anemia. Not the iron based version. It’s the autoimmune type/B-12 deficient pernicious anemia. That new doctor was the only woman specialist on my team at the time. Instead of listening for what the other doctors wanted to hear, she listened to me.

    There’s a moment of sheer satisfaction & relief to get an answer that proves I’m not being overly emotional or dramatic.Report

    • When I was told I had Sjogren’s Syndrome I went back to my car and cried out of sheer relief that I had SOMETHING tangible I could finally point to and say say “see, I’m not making this up!”

      I’m so glad they figured it out for you Mikkhi. Pernicious anemia is nothing to mess around with (as I know you know) since it can cause neurological damage and even be fatal when untreated.Report

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