What Does a Low White Blood Cell Count Mean?

What Does a Low White Blood Cell Count Mean?
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Since white blood cell count is a sign of systemic inflammation, it’s no surprise that those with lower white counts live longer.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

If you took a drop of blood and smeared it between two pieces of glass and looked at it under a microscope, it might look something like this: a whole bunch of little round red blood cells and then this big white blood cell. Red blood cells carry oxygen, and white blood cells are our immune system foot soldiers. We may churn out 50 billion new ones a day. In response to inflammation or infection, that number can shoot up to 100 billion or more. In fact, that’s what pus is largely composed of: millions and millions of white blood cells.

One of the most common laboratory tests that doctors order is the white blood cell count, which tests how many white blood cells we have at any given time. We order it hundreds of millions of times a year. So, for example, if you end up in the emergency room with abdominal pain, having a white blood cell count above about 10 billion per quart of blood may be a sign you have appendicitis. Most Americans fall between 4.5 and 10, but most Americans are unhealthy. Just because 4.5 to 10 is normal, doesn’t mean it’s ideal. It’s like having a normal cholesterol level in a society where it’s normal to die of heart disease. The average American is overweight; so, if your weight is “normal,” that’s a bad thing.

In fact, having excess fat itself causes inflammation within the body. So, no surprise those who are obese walk around with 2 billion more white cells per quart of blood. So, maybe obese individuals “should…have their own ‘normal values?'” So, someone with a 47-inch waist walking into the ER with a white count of 12, 13, 14 may not have appendicitis, or an infection—that may just be their baseline, normal level, given all the inflammation they have in their body from the excess fat. So, normal levels are not necessarily healthy levels.

It’s like smoking. If you take identical twins and one smokes but the other doesn’t, the smoker is going to end up with a significantly higher white cell count. In Japan, for example, as smoking rates have steadily dropped, so has the normal white count range, such that about 8% of never smoking men would now be flagged as having abnormally low white counts if you used a cutoff like 4. But, that’s because most people were smoking before, when they set that cutoff. So, maybe 3 would be a better lower limit. The inflammation caused by smoking may actually be one of the reasons cigarettes increase the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and other inflammatory diseases. So, do people who have lower white counts have less heart disease, cancer, and overall mortality? Yes, yes, and yes. People with lower white blood cell counts live longer. “Even within the normal range,” every one point drop may be associated with a 20% drop in the risk of premature death.

This is a log scale; so, there’s an exponential increase in risk as white count goes up, even within the so-called normal range. This is for men; the same is found for women. The white blood cell count is a “widely available and inexpensive measure of systemic inflammation.” At around age 85 in this study, half of women who started out with white counts under 5.6 were still alive, whereas 80% of those that started out over 7 were dead. And, 7, 8, 9, or 10 would be considered normal. Being at the high normal range may place one at 3 times the risk of dying from heart disease compared to being at the lower end.

Same link found for African-American men and women. Same in middle age. Same at age 75. Same at age 85. Same even in our 20s and 30s: a 17% increase in coronary artery disease incidence for each single point higher.

The higher your white count, the worse your arterial function and the stiffer your arteries; so, no wonder white blood cell count, “WBC count is a useful predictor of…artery disease” in your heart, brain, legs, and neck, and of high blood pressure. Even diabetes? Even diabetes, according to a compilation of 20 different studies. Everything from fatty liver disease to having an enlarged prostate. And, having a higher white blood cell count is associated with an increased risk of dying from cancer as well. And, these are all within the normal range. So, what would the ideal range be? I’ll cover that, next.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images by Reytan, Bobjgalindo, Keith Chambers, Ed Uthman, and Mate Marschalko.

Motion graphics by Avocado Video

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

If you took a drop of blood and smeared it between two pieces of glass and looked at it under a microscope, it might look something like this: a whole bunch of little round red blood cells and then this big white blood cell. Red blood cells carry oxygen, and white blood cells are our immune system foot soldiers. We may churn out 50 billion new ones a day. In response to inflammation or infection, that number can shoot up to 100 billion or more. In fact, that’s what pus is largely composed of: millions and millions of white blood cells.

One of the most common laboratory tests that doctors order is the white blood cell count, which tests how many white blood cells we have at any given time. We order it hundreds of millions of times a year. So, for example, if you end up in the emergency room with abdominal pain, having a white blood cell count above about 10 billion per quart of blood may be a sign you have appendicitis. Most Americans fall between 4.5 and 10, but most Americans are unhealthy. Just because 4.5 to 10 is normal, doesn’t mean it’s ideal. It’s like having a normal cholesterol level in a society where it’s normal to die of heart disease. The average American is overweight; so, if your weight is “normal,” that’s a bad thing.

In fact, having excess fat itself causes inflammation within the body. So, no surprise those who are obese walk around with 2 billion more white cells per quart of blood. So, maybe obese individuals “should…have their own ‘normal values?'” So, someone with a 47-inch waist walking into the ER with a white count of 12, 13, 14 may not have appendicitis, or an infection—that may just be their baseline, normal level, given all the inflammation they have in their body from the excess fat. So, normal levels are not necessarily healthy levels.

It’s like smoking. If you take identical twins and one smokes but the other doesn’t, the smoker is going to end up with a significantly higher white cell count. In Japan, for example, as smoking rates have steadily dropped, so has the normal white count range, such that about 8% of never smoking men would now be flagged as having abnormally low white counts if you used a cutoff like 4. But, that’s because most people were smoking before, when they set that cutoff. So, maybe 3 would be a better lower limit. The inflammation caused by smoking may actually be one of the reasons cigarettes increase the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and other inflammatory diseases. So, do people who have lower white counts have less heart disease, cancer, and overall mortality? Yes, yes, and yes. People with lower white blood cell counts live longer. “Even within the normal range,” every one point drop may be associated with a 20% drop in the risk of premature death.

This is a log scale; so, there’s an exponential increase in risk as white count goes up, even within the so-called normal range. This is for men; the same is found for women. The white blood cell count is a “widely available and inexpensive measure of systemic inflammation.” At around age 85 in this study, half of women who started out with white counts under 5.6 were still alive, whereas 80% of those that started out over 7 were dead. And, 7, 8, 9, or 10 would be considered normal. Being at the high normal range may place one at 3 times the risk of dying from heart disease compared to being at the lower end.

Same link found for African-American men and women. Same in middle age. Same at age 75. Same at age 85. Same even in our 20s and 30s: a 17% increase in coronary artery disease incidence for each single point higher.

The higher your white count, the worse your arterial function and the stiffer your arteries; so, no wonder white blood cell count, “WBC count is a useful predictor of…artery disease” in your heart, brain, legs, and neck, and of high blood pressure. Even diabetes? Even diabetes, according to a compilation of 20 different studies. Everything from fatty liver disease to having an enlarged prostate. And, having a higher white blood cell count is associated with an increased risk of dying from cancer as well. And, these are all within the normal range. So, what would the ideal range be? I’ll cover that, next.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images by Reytan, Bobjgalindo, Keith Chambers, Ed Uthman, and Mate Marschalko.

Motion graphics by Avocado Video

Doctor's Note

This whole concept of the risks of being normal in a sick society is explored further in my video When Low-Risk Means High-Risk.

Stay tuned next for What Is the Ideal White Blood Cell Count?

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

104 responses to “What Does a Low White Blood Cell Count Mean?

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  1. What a timely post, Dr. G! Just had my lab test done recently and my WBC is 3.5 (6.1 a year ago). My DO wanted me to take another test for it. All my numbers are excellent. So I guess I shouldn’t worry? Thank you!




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      1. Finally the word is out! This is WHY whole food plant based vegans usually and consistently have a Low blood cell count according to the “normal” values. I wish my doctor knew this instead of thinking I’m abnormal! Thank you so much Dr.Greger! The world is so upside down in terms of health education!




        25
          1. Hi I just learned mine is 3.7 .. I was also getting worried until I saw this video. Has Dr G ever mentioned if any foods, nuts etc, lower WBC further? Also, is there any problem with WBC being too low?




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      2. Finally the word is out! This is WHY whole food plant based vegans usually and consistently have a Low blood cell count according to the “normal” values. I wish my doctor knew this instead of thinking I’m abnormal! Been a vegan for 20 years and have had lower than “normal” wbc count for just as long.




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      3. Kate, it’s great that your weren’t intimidated by your Dr. and showed this to him! Kudos to you! We must continue to educate the medical professionals, whether they want to hear it or not. You never know when you’ll have a break through :) I have a mechanical heart valve, since 2000, and every year I try to get my cardiologist to go to plant-based conferences. I give him Plant-based videos for Christmas, etc. Finally after 11 years of doing this he was receptive. Maybe you’ll see him in Anaheim this fall Dr. G!




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    1. Mine was last tested at 4.6 at around 69 yrs old….I was at the lower end of the range…so I thought I had issues.

      Having a lower WBC doesn’t mean you don’t experience the typical aches/pains when you get older though.




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  2. Finally the word is out! This is WHY whole food plant based vegans usually and consistently have a Low blood cell count according to the “normal” values. I wish my doctor knew this instead of thinking I’m abnormal!




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  3. Thank you very much for this video. After just about every test possible it was finally decided that my wbc of 3.5 is “normal for me”. I have always been curious if it was an indication of some serious underlying problem but figured that after 20 years it hadn’t done me in yet so no point worrying about it. Nice to know that it may actually be a good thing!




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  4. My WBC was 3 at the recent test – I’m vegan & gluten/soy/sugar free). My DC/ND (who is vegan) wants to see it just a tad higher. But I’m not worried now!




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  5. Shortly after going vegan, my white blood cell count dropped substantially and so did my occurrence of getting colds, flu, etc. I had to come up with some kind of rationalization for what seemed like a contradiction in these two facts, so I decided that it must be that meat and animal products have a whole lot more bacteria in them than plant foods, stimulating a higher wbc count. I took milk for example, which spoils, even in the fridge after a short time. So I figured that the low wbc count indicated that my immune system was nice and rested up, ready to spring into action if needed. And so, when a cold germ did come along, the immune reaction was vigorous and immediate, instead of the usual sluggish reaction when I was a meat-eater, taking a week or more to clear the cold. Any thoughts?




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  6. Thank you for sharing the valuable information DocG! Would you recommend testing around a specific time for athletes or someone who engages in vigorous exercises/activities on regular basis? I’m vegan for past few years, don’t seem to have fallen sick in past few years, hardly remember even a usual cold in the past few years. However, I have my WBC and CRP on higher side majority of times! I do engage in medium distance (6 to 8 to 10K) running or weight training when not running, I’m just trying to understand if higher WBC and CRP values due to vigorous exercise routine or I should really hunt down the inflammation in the body somewhere!!




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  7. Hello. I have a question about soy and kids..I have 3 kids ages 5 and under- smallest 9 mo. Is it safe for kids under age 1 ( and under 5?) to consume soy milk and products? Is there anything different you recommend when it comes to kids diet and “veganism “? Thanks




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    1. some researches connect soy to lower intellectual abilities, so I don’t eat it. And also most of soy is GMO now, so you and your children can be exposed to Roundup




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      1. Helga, I suggest you take a look at Dr Greger’s videos on soy. I am pretty sure he has found nothing to suggest it will lower cognitive abilities and instead he shows data to show how it is protective against some cancers. To avoid GMO, just buy organic soy and don’t eat soy out if you think it is conventionally sourced. Trader Joe’s has a great organic tofu that we use all the time. To your heath.




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      2. And most GMO soy is fed to animals, not made into products for human consumption. Without getting into a list of references, Asians have been using soy and soy products for millenia and certainly their health nor intellect hasn’t suffered. I have read nothing but positive attributes in studies on this site about soy and nothing that is negative, except for soy isolates or other processed garbage and actual allergies, so I use traditional soy when so inclined, without concern.




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      3. Helga, my brother and I grew up consuming soy. My IQ is 129 and my brother’s is 140. Mine is in the upper 2 percentile of the intellectual range and my brother’s is gifted range. Doesn’t seem to have hurt either of us any.
        Most soy is not necessarily GMO. The soy found in grocery stores is labeled organic (which is not GMO) and/or clearly labeled “non-GMO”. Just read the label.
        A great deal of soy is raised for cow feed.




        3
      4. There was a well designed prospective study, published in a top nutrition peer review journal, conducted in Hawaii several years ago that studied older Hawaiians of Japanese descent over several years.

        Both males and females who consumed the most soy protein in the form of miso had about three times the incidence of dementia as those who consumed the least.

        That seems a heavy price to pay for the documented health benefits of soy.




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        1. hi Frank Cawood, in this link, John Robbins has crafted an excellent response to a person asking about the Honolulu Heart Study and the question of dementia. http://johnrobbins.info/blog/tofu-soy-milk-dementia/ John offers his insights to the study, and why he feels confident in serving soy products daily in his household. It was a single study Frank, and as John points out, asia (and Japan) has lower incidence of dementia than the west though the typical asian diet regularly includes soy products. He also describes the studies that have since found soy and soy isoflavones to have a positive effect upon aging and cognitive faculties. It’s well worth reading.




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    2. hi Rina, I am not in the medical profession, but I often use the resources at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. The have an excellent page on diet recommendations for children of all ages, including specific notes on plant milks. http://www.pcrm.org/health/diets/vegdiets/vegetarian-diets-for-children-right-from-the-start I hope you find it interesting and useful. Soy products destined for human consumption are most often clearly marked organic and/or non-GMO. Simply look for these designations when purchasing soy milk or products. The GMO soy grown in america is mostly used as animal feed. All the very best in health to you and yours!




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  8. Thank you for this video, good information. My Dr sent me to a hematologist after having low WBC, it was at 2.6 after an illness. But in looking back at prior year blood test results for comparison, mine always has been low, around 3.8 – 4.0. I was back to 4.0 in March, now 4.1 in June. Have eaten WFPB for many years and always will.




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  9. I have been a WFPB guy for a bout 4.5 years now. I have always been on the lower end of normal for white blood cell count but as of the last few years my numbers have fallen below the normal range. Although my heath has been excellent my doctor has put me though more blood tests that I can count. She even phoned me in a panic one day after reviewing one of my blood tests and asked if I was feeling okay. My low white blood cell count has lead to numerous tests from Hepatitis to HIV! She finally sent me to a hematologist who seemed to to be impressed with all my other numbers although he felt that my low blood cell count was because “something was activating the condition”. He sent me on my way and said that I should be continued to be tested about every six months. That was about a year ago. I continue to be in great health at 52 years of age.

    I am however on the edge of my seat waiting for the next video. Thank you Dr. Greger for all you do! You have made my adventure in to the whole foods plant based diet fascinating and informative.




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  10. The past few years my doctor has been reporting that I have low WBC counts and she keeps having it retested to see if the numbers “recover”. All this time I have been worrying that this meant I was ill. Thanks so much for this information. What a relief!




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  11. Life is Good. My wbc is historical low @ 3.4. I had been eating more mushrooms to try to increase the number! I will still consume the mushrooms but for other reasons. Thanks Dr. G for correcting misinformation I had been told. Great great info




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  12. What a great video again. I have never heard about this before. Can’t wait to watch the next one. Thank you for all your hard work Dr. Greger and team!




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  13. What a relief. My recent blood tests came back with a slightly below normal white blood count. My Dr said don’t worry about it but I read that it could be a sign of infection. I have been a vegan-vegatarian for 40 years and in my later years a vegan. Interesting information thanks Doc!




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  14. I was so relieved after watching this video. I was recently referred to a hematologist for low WBC and was a little worried. I’ve never had a history of low WBC but after watching the video it occurred to me that I have greatly reduced my meat consumption and have been eating more plant-based meals over the last year. I am hopeful my lab report only indicates that I’m healthier. I can’t wait for the What Is the Ideal White Blood Cell Count video. Love the videos you post and appreciate the work you do to clear the clutter of health research.




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  15. As per the other comments, I was left feeling nervous when my doc had me retested because I was 3.9 only to get approx the same number. My doc knew i was plant based and that i am very fit (age 53), lean and that i only had a 1-day cold in the last 12 years. Now I feel like a million dollars – thank you DrG!!




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  16. My WBC had been less than 4.0 for the last 5 years and I’ve been told by 2 different doctors this is not healthy, “Dangerously low” is what one doctor said, which freaked me out. Of course they had no solution or could provide a reason. My last WBC test came in at 3.3. I’m a 47 yr old vegan and an athlete.

    Thanks for sharing this video, it puts me at ease knowing I’m going to live longer ;-)




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  17. Hooray! Spring ’15 WBC of 5.9; ’16, 5.2; ’17, 4.0. This is my journey from SAD diet, to veg curious to 100% vegan. I feel better with the info in this video. Thanks!




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  18. I am a medical doctor. I was wondering why me super fit dad at 83 has WBC count of 3200. Now I understand. Thank you for reminding us of what we should know intuitively.




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  19. This is valuable information, especially for those who have been put through so many unnecessary tests. And for those of us with lower WBCs, it will be interesting to find out what the healthy range is, as opposed to ‘normal’.




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  20. This video explains a lot.

    That is, I read of research done by a University in Spain in concert with one in the U.S. that said the main concern with diabetes is inflammation. They concluded that if a person could hold down the inflammation, one could live without complications from having diabetes.

    This may have relevance to my own high A1c and blood glucose numbers accompanying my ketogenic diet, and my otherwise excellent labs.

    I say that because since reading that I have redoubled my efforts to hold down inflammation taking such things as White Willow Bark Extract (which aspirin is based on) plus corydalis and DGL (licorice extract) plus everything I read that suggests a supplement or nutrient is an inflammation fighter.

    If I can find the link to the study referenced, I will post below this comment.




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      1. Thanks for the link Jeff… haven’t seen this video.

        I have seen something on the web suggesting that licorice is bad for us and when I read that, I immediately stopped taking full spectrum licorice.

        But I vaguely remember reading that the DGL didn’t have the same risks so I began buying and taking that. To be honest, I can’t even remember what the benefit of taking the DGL is but I hazily remember it has something to do with inflammation.

        I think I will see if I saved the research and if not, do some more research to see if I still want to continue taking the DGL.

        Thanks for the heads-up.




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        1. O.K., did a search and the only reference I found in re: to inflammation was on WebMD saying that licorice works to calm inflammation in the lining of the gut. Something along this line is what probably initially turned me on to licorice before changing to DGL extract. I am particularly protective of my gut as I think that is where our second “brain” resides.

          And I correctly stated that the DGL extract is the safer product.

          As stated on WebMD: Licorice contains glycyrrhizic acid, which can cause complications when eaten in large quantities.




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  21. What perfect timing! My WBC has been low the past year and now the dr is getting concerned. He wants to redo the blood work in 6 weeks. Now I’m not concerned. Can’t wait to hear your video tomorrow.




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  22. Dear Dr. Greger: Thanks for informative video. I’m confused cuz I thought white blood cells fight off infections?
    My WBC has been really low at times. 2.9, 3, 3.5, now (finally.. cuz I thought low was bad) up to
    around 4.5. So, if they are our “soldiers” how to we fight off infections when/if supposedly too low?
    Also, can you do a video on MPV count, size of red cells, and if high on tests, is that bad, and how to make better?
    THANK YOU. BE WELL EVERYONE.




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    1. Sandy, my intuition tells me that our disease-fighting white cell army remains small until orders go out of invasion which in turn prompts new “soldiers” to be trained to fight the invaders. If the number of soldiers is high, then that means our body is under attack.

      And while this is slightly off topic, I wonder if amputees recruit as many white blood cells since their circulatory system is smaller? And for that matter, does their heart last longer, not having to pump through as much blood vessel network? And do tall people have more heart stress than shorter people?

      Sorry, a storm just erupted in my brain.




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  23. I’m currently seeing a hematologist for this very thing and been worried sick. Will your next video also address what’s an ideal level for Neutrophils?




    4
  24. I’ve always had a WBC, “abnormally low”, between 3 and 3.5, and I always thought that there was something wrong with my immune system! I thought I was supposed to “boost” it and I thought that I was more prone to infections because of it.
    Thank you for sharing this video!




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  25. OFF Topic

    The WSJ today has story on digital applications for assisting persons with chronic illness, e.g. high blood pressure, manage their illness. This is an important idea to aid in maintaining a whole plant foods based diet and frankly I think nutritionfacts.com could do a better job with a video.




    1
  26. My husband was recently diagnosed with PAD. I checked and his count is 5.4, mine is 3.8. The range given is 3.5 – 10.6. I’m searching for the video that explains what a true healthy range should be. This video is, as they all are, so informative. Thank you!




    2
  27. Wonderful video! My WBO is always low and any doctor always asks if I was sick when I had my blood drawn. Now I can stop worrying about doctors who aren’t up on their research. However, my lymphocytes are high. Does anyone know if this goes hand-in-hand with the low WBC?




    3
  28. This is interesting. I have had “low” white blood cell counts for about 2 years now while at the same time having inflammation (sed rate and C reactive protien), though my doctor considers the inflammation “mild.” It shows itself in my left ankle/foot only. The swelling does reduce when I avoid processed foods. It seems I am always the anomaly. If you have some explanation of why I might have low white blood cell count + inflammation, contrary to this video, I’d love to hear it!




    2
  29. Well this is a big relief as my WBC has come back flagged as low for many years and my Dr. didn’t know why, she even once consulted with another Dr. who just said for her to just re-check it yearly.
    So watching this video gives me great relief from worry. I had even been looking online for ways to increase my white blood counts.

    One thing though……. my Platelet count ( 123) and my #Neutrophils (1.35) were also flagged as low …… are those two things being low something to worry about……. or is it good that they are low also ?

    Thanks so much!




    4
    1. Kathy,
      As someone who has ITP, (Immune thrombocytopenic purpura or low platelets due to the immune system attacking the platelets,) I can tell you that the new understanding is that a platelet count of 123k is nothing to worry about. It used to be (and probably still is on most CBC reports) considered normal to have a range between 140k and 400k. The new standard is not to consider anything wrong unless you drop below 100k. And most doctors who specialize in ITP won’t treat unless the number is below 50k. You can check out this website for more info: pdsa.org.




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      1. Pam,
        Thank you so much for sharing and providing that information. That’s a relief. My mom died from ALS, and my brother died before the age of 40 from pancreatic cancer, so I guess I am just worried. Thanks again!




        0
  30. I find this information amazing
    Twelve years ago I got my first low WBC score
    As low as 1.65 or 2.3 which was attributed to the difficult times I had gone through According to my doctor, as we could not find another reason

    By that time I had gone through hard and painfull times due to my mother’s atherosclerosis which put her very close to loosing her leg. At 82 she already had lost her enviable sight, due to the same reason -she was slim and active and you could not have guessed how bad her atherosclerosis was
    We had been vegetarian for more than thirty years -sadly we ate lots of sweets and dairy with our otherwise healthy, vegetarian diet
    After seeing what happened with my mother I started to search and eventually found what has done wonders to my husban’s and my own health The WFPB
    We are 72 and 66. No more colitis, no flu, no colds, our cholesterol started to improve only after 5 or 6 years but it happened
    We get very good numbers from our lab tests
    But my WBC count is still in the 2,000; his continue to be in the 4,500
    I will not worry about my numbers anymore thanks to this video and to all the valuable information you share.
    I believe that you are doing a wonderful job, giving us such a precious information and helping thousands around the world to improve our health and lives
    Blessings




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  31. This is so great! I just got my blood work back yesterday and my WBC was 3.9 and my monocytes were 0.1, both low I was worried, I am plant based I wish I was vegan but I really can’t call myself a vegan since I take thyroid (amour), so I am just going with plant based.




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  32. Great video, as it is always the case with Dr. G’s videos! I am looking forward to the next video. In the meantime I was doing some reading, and according to this site:
    https://selfhacked.com/blog/how-to-increase-and-decrease-white-blood-cells/#Why_Are_Higher_Levels_of_White_Blood_Cells_Bad

    In the 7 countries study, after adjustment for risk factors, each point increase in WBCs was associated with a 21% higher 5-year heart disease mortality (R).

    So having a WBC count between 3.5 and 6.0 is ideal in terms of optimal health.

    WBC counts of 9,000-10,000 had a 3.2 fold elevated risk for Cardiovascular disease death compared with those with WBC counts of 4,000-4,900 (Japanese)




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  33. Thank you for this!

    For years I’ve been mildly concerned about my low WBC that usually averages about 3.5. Now I see that this is because my BMI is at the bottom range of normal. Ha!




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  34. My WBC count has been for a couple of years 3.6. I have to visit a blood specialist for that every year. I started to reduce meat and now I am 95 % plant based. I am not sure why my WBC has gone down.




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  35. I was concerned because at one time, my white blood cell count went down to 3. But most of the time, it is at 3.5. I am glad this is actually a good thing and not a bad thing. I WAS a little concerned about this.




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  36. This is ground breaking ‘out to the public’ research. I am so grateful for this presentation. It was funny reading about the worried doctors, who should of been commending us. ..:-)

    At last, we can have a measure of general all-round health of a WFPB diet. If our white blood cell count is low, then we are hitting the target correctly. Here in the UK we have several postal ‘pin prick’ blood test services where for 69 GBP or so, we can get a professional blood test to find this and many other measure of health. Example: https://www.medichecks.com/health-checks/essential-blood-test

    I wonder if still staying on the vegan diet path, but straying into some vegan processed goods (e.g protein bars, vegan cheeses, faux meats, etc) if our white cell count increases slightly, OR strictly keeping to whole foods, it brings the count downwards. I wonder if we can control this count directly by tweaking our vegan food choices. Looking eagerly to part 2 …




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  37. Thanks for this informative video. I am 58 years old and in very good health, and have had a low WBC for years – usually around 2.5, never above 3. My doctor was concerned at first – we noticed it about 5 years ago but I think it has been low for much longer than that – but now she just says it is naturally low, because I am always in good health, rarely get a cold or flu, am lean and now a vegan for about the past 9 months. How low can a WBC get before we should be concerned, when no outward symptoms of disease are present? I’ve done some reading about leukopenia … and am just curious – when is too low a count a concern and what can be done about it? Or do we just enjoy the fact that this is a good thing and nothing to worry about?




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  38. Just in time. Just got the results from my ‘welcome to Medicare’ wellness exam and my WBC and neutrophil counts are slightly below ‘normal.’ My nurse practitioner asked the doc if that was anything to worry about, and he said I wasn’t in neutropenia territory, so no worries. And then this video. Yay! I sent my NP this video.




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  39. Fantastic video!

    I am a walking case study – my WBC is 2.8. I had a High Sensitivity (HS) CRP performed and it came back <0.2 mg/L. I have undetectable levels of inflammation.

    Where my story is a little interesting is my total cholesterol is 182 and my LDL is 110, but, I eat only around 7% fat in my diet. 1 TBSN of flax seed + 1 Walnut per day. Otherwise all whole plant foods and no other significant sources of fat. I have a family history of heart disease and am one of the genetic few that just can't control it with diet. But, with my HS-CRP numbers and low WBC (and basically a Esselstyn / Ornish / Greger / Furhman diet) I know my endothelium are in great shape.

    Unfortunately, my doctor thinks I am crazy and wants to put me on a statin.

    Thanks for all the great work you are doing at NutrtionFacts.Org!

    Can't wait to see if I am in the ideal range or can lower it even more.




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      1. You are indeed a walking case study. WFPB works. Chlolesterol 320/240 to 182 and you are not breaking cholesterol into fine pieces which
        are very detrimental to your health. Keep it up! :)




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    1. Thanks David for your comments. I have the same story, and numbers identical to yours – from the LDL, to the hs CRP and including the tbsp of flax and 1 walnut. I did have a quad bypass operation years ago, but enjoy wfpb diet the same as you. The cardiologist told me he had never seen lower inflammation markers at any time during his career! One year with the wfpb eating, I had blood tests come back showing low wbc. At the time I was worried because I was sent out for more tests that were scouting for things like leukemia. The tests returned normal, and I look forward to the next video to see where we are all at with this.

      Re statin: I do take 10 mg (weak dose) of a statin only 2 days per week… 2 pills per week, that’s it. It is my compromise to the protocol for those with a history of heart disease. I will not increase it since that would mean pain, muscle spasms, sore joints ie inflammation!




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      1. WFPBVEGAN48 – Thank you for your reply and words of encouragement.

        Susan – Thank you for sharing your background. It is great to hear from someone with similar cholesterol processing issues. Amazing that we both decided on the same amount of nuts / seeds (I expect we can thank Dr. Greger and maybe Esselstyn for that). Great to hear you are doing so well after the bypass. My father had a quadruple bypass in his early 40’s and a debilitating stroke in his 50’s. He followed a strict “low-fat” diet as prescribed to him by his cardiologist (which was absolutely not WFPB – this was in the 1980’s) and his disease progressed unabated. It is fantastic that you have taken your nutrition into your own hands! Keep up the great work.




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        1. Thank you so much David, we can do this! I believe keeping a focus on anti-inflammatory diet and exercise, the endothelium stays happy. And, thanks to Dr Greger and the NF team, we get timely advice and encouragement along the way … awesome!




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          1. Hi Susan,

            I have a question for you since we are basically taking in the same amount of fats:

            I often feel I am missing out on absorbing nutrients because I can’t add some healthy fat to each meal to help absorb all of the fat soluble phytonutrients and vitamins. I always put my 1 TBSN of flax on my daily salad and am then limited to adding a 1/2 walnut to two other meals.

            I believe Orton and Esselstyn are putting their patients on diets of basically no nuts / seeds – so they are reversing heart disease and cancer and are obviously getting all the proper nutrients. But, it seems like this goes against all of the science on absorption with fat. What are your thoughts on this – anything special you do in your diet?

            Thanks,

            David




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            1. This is a good question David. So far, I have been adding ground flax to my morning oatmeal, and the walnut to one of the daily salads. I basically dont worry about it for a couple of reasons. One is that grains and even vegies have a bit of fat in them so it actually takes some discipline to keep fat under 8 or 10%. Also, I have had blood tests checking for major nutritents like B12, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, iron, and surprisingly they have never been better. I am sure too that Drs Ornish, Esselstyn, McDougall have looked under every stone so to speak with blood testing their patients over the years. Im sure that if more was required we would hear about it.
              Sometimes I have a chicory coffee with soy milk, or might toss a few sunflower seeds on a big salad if its the main meal, but honestly, so far my docs have been very impressed with what whole foods can do. All the best to you !




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              1. Hi Susan,

                Thanks for the response. Great points.

                It just hit me that you actually have the name “Susan” so I expect you were one of the first folks to sign up on the site!

                Keep up the great work!

                David




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              2. Hi Susan,

                As I am on a very low fat diet and a little concerned with nutrient absorption, can you please tell me what vitamins/supplements someone on this diet should take.

                I currently take Vitamin B12, Vitamin D and Algae Oil.

                Thank you,

                David




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  40. Thank you, Dr. Gregor! Like many of the other reviewers, my PCP was concerned about my low WBC count and sent me to a specialist who, thankfully, was not concerned. Dr. Fuhrman very briefly mentioned the same thing on a teaching video a few years ago, but I caught it and it eased my mind at the time. Thanks for getting the word out!




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  41. NutrtionFacts.Org: Thank you for all you do!

    Can you please let us know what the optimal Urine PH range should be as well. Mine is abnormally high at 8.5 and I am hoping that this is a good thing and indicative of my diet.

    Thank you!




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    1. Hi this is Dr. Sozanski Phd, PScD out of Sandy Springs GA and a Moderator for Nutritionfacts.org. While a trend to the alkaline side seems to be beneficial to overall health, normal urine pH is indeed considered to be, just as you suggested, between 4.6 and 7.5-8; in your case it seems to be trending higher on the alkaline side. When urine pH is higher than normal, maybe some attention should be paid to the kidney function, as well as to possible urinary tract infections, even asymptomatic bacteria presence in the bladder, which may increase urine pH levels. Your doctor should be able to advise if action is required or just monitoring of the trend.




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      1. Dr. Sozanski,

        Thank you so much for the reply and advice. I am definitely going to see my doctor to address this.

        Thanks again!

        David




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  42. Thank YOU Dr. Greger and company !!!!

    I’m so happy to find this video today ! I’m overweight and all my blood analysis are “normal”. I always was suspensions that it isn’t ok.

    Now you confirm my doubt ! i will work harder on me !

    thank you very, very much again !




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  43. I have had a low WBC for at least the past 40 years when it was discovered on a routine work related physical. Much testing done to find out why, no answer so just live with it and always tell physician if I get blood work done that it will be low. It has never run above 3. At 71, I feel fine, eat WFPB and now have a nice reason for my low WBC. Thx.




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  44. My WBC is @ 8.5. How can I lower this to maybe 4.0. I am obese, on BP Medication. Cholesterol, total, 144. No heart problems, etc.




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    1. Hi John,

      I am a volunteer for Dr. Greger. Thanks so much for your question–I really hope I can help you solve this.

      Have you seen other videos or information put out by NutritionFacts.org? If not, I recommend checking out some of the introductory videos (https://nutritionfacts.org/introduction/), and then using the search bar to look up any other topics you might be interested in.

      But to answer your question, the absolute best way that research suggests so far to alleviate health problems and lose weight, is to follow a whole food, plant-based diet. This means as little animal foods (meat, dairy, and eggs) and processed foods (processed grains, added oils, salt, and sugar) as possible, while eating lots of fruits, vegetables, nuts/seeds, beans/legumes, and whole grains. The less animal and processed foods, and the more whole plant foods, the more likely that you may see health problems and excess weight disappear. Don’t worry about about calories or protein. Eat a variety of the foods mentioned, and eat until you feel content.

      Please make sure you consult with your doctor during this process, as your blood pressure may drop dramatically, and staying on your BP medication may drop your blood pressure too low.

      Specifically, here is a video on blood pressure (https://nutritionfacts.org/video/how-not-to-die-from-high-blood-pressure/) and on weight loss (https://nutritionfacts.org/video/eating-more-to-weigh-less/).

      I hope this helps, and best of luck, John. At NutritionFacts.org, we love to see people like you making a positive change in their lives. Please do not hesitate to ask any other questions. We’d love to help.




      1
    2. John,

      Two considerations from the information that you provided. Obviously your obesity will play a part in your elevated WBC and the BP medication may be creating a depletion of some nutrients. Please check your mediation and supplement appropriately, Also see the 2nd video on the issue at: http://nutritionfacts.us5.list-manage.com/track/click?u=c1bae6687e1e6ab175fb56913&id=5b2647b6c1&e=b7bee4794f

      Remember to be patient and follow a healthy regimen of exercise and diet interventions. You might also consider evaluating your bowels microbiome as there is a distinctly different make up for those with extra weight which will also impact your WBC count.

      Dr. Alan Kadish moderator for Dr. Greger




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  45. Since you are on blood tests, can you tell me if a WFPB diet can raise your alpha fetoprotein levels? Mine has been running slightly elevated for the past couple of years, my doctor believes that it is my diet because other tests were not indicative of other conditions.
    Thanks for all your hard work in promoting a healthy lifestyle for humanity.




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  46. This video was so timely! I recently had blood work done and the results this week showed that my WBC was “low” on the scale at 4.3k/mcL. However, my MPV registered as high at 11.5fl. Could you please do a video on mean platelet volume and what its scale means?




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  47. CORRECTION on my previous comment. Is there a way to edit these? because part of what I wrote got deleted, evidently because the characters of “less than” and “greater than” were not recognized. So I’ll repeat my post without using them. Please ignore my previous comments.
    ———————————

    Great video! Entertaining and informative. Now I have something else by which to gauge my health and longevity besides the traditional markers of LDL, HgA1C and blood pressure.

    The video mentions a close association between WBC and C-Reactive Protein. It would interesting to see a correlation between CRP and longevity. My WBC isn’t bad — 4.71 — but judging from the evidence presented here, it could be lower. However, my CRP is very low. Here are the ranges for a highly sensitive CRP (hsCRP) in mg/L:

    Low risk is less than 1.0
    Average Risk is between 1.0 and 3.0
    High Risk is between 3.1 and 10.0
    Very High Risk is greater than 10.0

    Mine is 0.04, which indicates very low systemic inflammation, even more so (in my opinion) than does a WBC of 4.71.




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  48. My WBC hit 2.0 after a 1-2 month low calorie diet (it’s normally around 3.0). After resuming a generous amount a calories, it went up to 4.0. Does the ‘fasting’ period explain the low WBC in that case? Was 2.0 ‘too low’ at the time? My doc was so worried that he sent me to a hematologist.




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    1. Hi Jeffrey,
      I read a few days ago something similar.
      Could you let me know how long did it take for your WBC to go up to normal levels after increasing the amount of calories intake?
      I am vegan and my levels of WBC (especially neutrophils) are low, the last results were WBC 2.6 and neutrophils 0.43
      Regards.




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      1. My WBC has hovered between 2.7 and 3.7 ALL MY LIFE, so 2.6 doesn’t look that ‘low’ to me!

        But, to answer your question… I had 2.0 WBC in December and then 4.2 WBC by March. My other doc said that it generally takes about 3 months or so for the cells to ‘turn over’ / reproduce.




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  49. Great video! Entertaining and informative. Now I have something else by which to gauge my health and longevity besides the traditional markers of LDL, HgA1C and blood pressure.

    The video mentions a close association between WBC and C-Reactive Protein. It would interesting to see a correlation between CRP and longevity. My WBC isn’t bad — 4.71 — but judging from the evidence presented here, it could be lower. However, my CRP is very low. Here are the ranges for a highly sensitive CRP (hsCRP) in mg/L:

    Low risk is less than 1.0
    Average Risk is between 1.0 and 3.0
    High Risk is between 3.1 and 10.0
    Very High Risk is greater than 10.0

    Mine is 0.04, which indicates very low systemic inflammation. The American Heart Association views hs-CRP as a measure of one’s risk for cardiovascular disease.

    See the following for a study on very low CRP and is relevance as a biomarker: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17852082




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  50. I just pulled off a 2.9 WBC my lowest yet. Zero Absolute Immature Granulocytes. ANC count of 1363. But I have something going on for years now, and impossible to get health care to do anything but try to keep jacking me out of healthy body parts. Oh well, I’ll just deal with the pain and keep going to the ER. Meanwhile I supercharge the immune system as that helps, along with daily heat treatments. Rogue bacteria suck, wish I knew how to gain some weight, people think I’m on drugs. Had to deal with another hospital supervisor looking at my lymphocytes and asking about AIDS, I said I’ve given blood to the red cross 13 times in 4 years is that sufficient for an AIDS check. I beg for the CRP they won’t do it.




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