Friday, January 13, 2017

White Blood Cell Count: Biomarker of Health

Photo by keepingtime_ca.

Most people know that having a high white blood cell count is most likely a sign that the body is fighting an infection.

Also, having a low white blood cell count can be a sign of a problem.

White blood cells play a central role in the body's immune system. These cells constitute about 1% of human blood. They are small, but they are mighty.

Until doing research for this post, I had no idea what values constituted a healthy range for white blood cell count (WBC).

Depending on the source, healthy ranges for WBC are listed somewhere between 4,000 to 5,000 per microlitre on the low end or normal and between 10,000 and 11,000 per microlitre on the high end of normal. 

This post is part of a series on biomarkers of health and longevity.


White blood cell count was one of 18 biomarkers studied by a team of researchers, led by Daniel Belsky from Duke University.   They used data from the Dunedin, New Zealand longitudinal study to see if the pace of aging affected people as they moved from their 20s into their 30s. Their goal was to look at pace of aging in younger people while there is still more time for intervention.

Many of the biomarkers did present significant findings, but the biomarker of white blood cell count was not one of them. Nevertheless, I'm investigating all 18 to learn more about them in case I need to understand WBC lab results for me or a for a family member.

A different study published in 2007 has linked high white blood cell count with cardiovascular problems. However, more research is required to solidify the connection.

[This post does not offer medical advice. It is only aimed at increasing awareness. If you have a concern about your health or the health of a loved one, please see a licensed medical professional.]

High counts might be due to stress, smoking, recent intense exercise, medications, pregnancy/labor, an infection, allergies, arthritis, or a wide array of diseases, some more serious than others.

Low counts might be a problem with the bone marrow producing white blood cells. Or low counts might be due to an a disease, such as lupus or leukemia.  People undergoing radiation and chemotherapy go through periods of low white blood cell counts.

Some signs of low blood count are fever, chills, fatigue, stomach cramps, burning urination and mouth sores. But this is not an exhaustive list, and a blood panel is required to certify the diagnosis.

All my best to readers for safeguarding their health. 

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4 comments:

  1. It gives you such a scare when a loved one has a low blood count, as happened with my baby niece this year. It turns out she was fighting off infections after being enrolled in day care. It's all better now!

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    1. I am happy to hear that your baby niece is doing better. The body is such a complex system that works miraculously--most of the time. Have a good week.

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  2. Over the last five years I've watched my WBC go from 8.7 to 10.8. I'm having trouble getting a good diagnosis for what's wrong with me. Too low to diagnose and treat, too high to ever feel well.

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    1. I hope you can get some answers soon. Hugs.

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