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Pernicious Anemia

A type of anemia (low red blood cell count) caused by the body's inability to absorb vitamin B12.

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(Source: NIH - National Cancer Institute)

Pernicious Anemia

Pernicious anemia (per-NISH-us uh-NEE-me-uh) is a condition in which the body can't make enough healthy red blood cells because it doesn't have enough vitamin B12.

Vitamin B12 is a nutrient found in some foods. The body needs this nutrient to make healthy red blood cells and to keep its nervous system working properly.

People who have pernicious anemia can't absorb enough vitamin B12 from food. This is because they lack intrinsic (in-TRIN-sik) factor, a protein made in the stomach. A lack of this protein leads to vitamin B12 deficiency.

Other conditions and factors also can cause vitamin B12 deficiency. Examples include infections, surgery, medicines, and diet. Technically, the term "pernicious anemia" refers to vitamin B12 deficiency due to a lack of intrinsic factor. Often though, vitamin B12 deficiency due to other causes also is called pernicious anemia.

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Summaries for consumers

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More about Pernicious Anemia

Photo of an adult

Also called: Pernicious Anaemia, Cobalamin deficiency, Combined systems disease

See Also: Vitamin B12

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