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What Does a Low White Blood Cell Count Mean?

August 21, 2019

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 made sure now 50 billion new ones a day in response to inflammation or infection that number could shoot up to a hundred billion or more in fact that’s what pus is largely composed of millions and millions of white blood cells testing how many white blood cells we have in any given time our white blood cell count it’s one of the most common laboratory tests doctors order we ordered 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 may have appendicitis most Americans fall between 4.5 and 10 but most Americans are unhealthy just because 4 point 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 a number-one killer the average American is overweight so if your weight is quote-unquote normal that’s actually 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 in their blood so maybe obese individuals should have their own normal values someone with a 47 inch waist walking into an emergency room with a white count of 12 13 14 may not have appendicitis or an infection that may just be there 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 and the other doesn’t the smoker is gonna 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 use the cutoff like four but that’s because most people were smoking before when they set that cutoff so maybe three would be a better lower limit the inflammation caused by smoking may actually be one of the reasons cigarettes increase the risk of heart attack strokes and other inflammatory diseases so the 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 like 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 inexpensive measure of systemic inflammation at around age 85 in this study half of women who started out with white blood cell counts under 5.6 we’re still alive whereas 80% of those that started out over seven were dead and seven eight nine ten would be considered normal being at the high normal range may place one at three times the risk of dying from heart disease compared to being at the lower end same length 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 incidents for every 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 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 [Music] you


  • Reply V Verde June 28, 2017 at 1:49 pm

    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!

  • Reply Vegan For The Animals Ⓥ June 28, 2017 at 2:10 pm

    Another fantastic video, Doc….for my last blood test 9 months ago, my WBC was 3.6….I guess tmrw I'll find out if I'm dying or not….bring on part 2

  • Reply Javier delaCamara June 28, 2017 at 2:16 pm

    Fantastic Video. Really useful info!

  • Reply Alp Ozen June 28, 2017 at 2:21 pm

    After taking a look at your videos, I am vegan btw but now thinking may be I should not exist at all because everything apparently is killing me. Sorry Doc but your videos are confusing I know you are highly intelligent being above us God of diet but spare us and be more straight forward one video saying good next saying bad does not help at all.

  • Reply iridium56 June 28, 2017 at 2:21 pm

    Dr what's worse for inflammation? A diet rich in saturated fat or refined sugar?

  • Reply Mr Bulgaria pepi June 28, 2017 at 2:34 pm

    again I like to highlight that the video is getting dislike adjust a tell me who dislike this video this is a video based on fact researches and data think about it how would you end up disliking any of the informational videos provided for free to you you must be a really big idiot or somebody who is getting paid to do so

  • Reply Lisa R June 28, 2017 at 2:38 pm

    4 years ago all my lab results were in the normal range except my white blood cell count which was low. I was freaking out. Now it's in the normal range and I'm freaking out.

  • Reply Musical DNA June 28, 2017 at 2:48 pm

    Wish I knew why my Hematocrit is always either at the high end of 'normal' or it's high. I've been Vegan for 16 years. I was told by the nurse that in the 'olden days' that they would've put leeches on me and bled me. Ugh!

  • Reply Frank Rodriguez June 28, 2017 at 2:52 pm

    Thanks for doing this research and sharing the good news! This video just made my year!

  • Reply Dustin Hansford June 28, 2017 at 3:15 pm

    Good info, I can say typically in my lab patients report 6.0 -12.0 as the average range. Sad that this is the norm.

  • Reply Lichtblick June 28, 2017 at 3:26 pm

    I just looked at my last blood test. The normal range is 4.0 – 10.0 and i have 4.1. I'm so happy now 😄

  • Reply Kodosuro June 28, 2017 at 3:28 pm

    Very interesting! Was quite amazed by this since I didn't really understand all of it's signifiance and importance! Thanks A lot Dr Greger and Nutrionfacts staff for getting good content out!

  • Reply wojtekimbier June 28, 2017 at 3:43 pm

    I'm not vegan but these videos are very good, some of my favourite research paper reviews

  • Reply Merissa Cingano June 28, 2017 at 3:53 pm

    my husband is on immune suppressants. He had IGF nephropathy which destroyed his kidneys. He now has a donar kidney– his mother's. What does this mean for him? Anything he could be doing to ensure he stays healthy? If he has too little of white blood cells his body will reject his donar kidney. He's been plant based for the past 3 years.

  • Reply paulsan2112 June 28, 2017 at 4:08 pm

    Best YouTube channel!

    Do you have any on proper Test levels?

  • Reply Vegan Footsoldier June 28, 2017 at 4:31 pm

    thanks for the shout out!

  • Reply Bending Spoons June 28, 2017 at 4:48 pm

    Same here, except my hematologist told me that my African American heritage was to blame for my lower than normal count.

  • Reply Emma Kyte June 28, 2017 at 4:56 pm

    Wow, this is so interesting! My Dr told me I "should be sick all the time" because my WBC count is so low. I get sick less than once per year and even then only mildly for about a day. It makes total sense the "normal" is just the average "not actively dying" person, and the average person has been building up to heart disease, diabetes etc for many years before considered sick. We need to redefine what it means to be "unhealthy", to give doctors a better understanding of what needs their intervention. Right now most doctors consider someone fine unless they actually require medical intervention to keep living. Simply existing without being on 10+ medications does not mean someone is actually healthy.

  • Reply Jeff Lebowski June 28, 2017 at 5:53 pm

    Good video, I never realized high WBC is bad for you.

  • Reply Obunga June 28, 2017 at 6:19 pm

    Thoughts on MCT oil?

  • Reply Melissa Giraldo June 28, 2017 at 7:04 pm

    What if you have a HIGH WBC and LOW auto Lymphocyte percent?

  • Reply Andrea Wisner June 28, 2017 at 7:09 pm

    It makes sense that if you have nothing in your body causing an immune reaction, your count would be closer to zero. It could also mean that your immune system is not working..

  • Reply Rebecca Marchand-Smith June 28, 2017 at 7:25 pm

    I always felt like I was chronically inflamed before going vegan and now I recover quicker from physical activity, I get sick less, my post-concussion symptoms began clearing up…. I just feel less inflamed all the time and I never knew why (I was just happy to finally be feeling good)! I'm SO CURIOUS to get my bloodwork data from my doctor now to see if there was a noticeable drop in my WBC!

  • Reply *Wizdom* June 28, 2017 at 7:51 pm

    Mine is 3.0. I'm a semi-vegetarian


  • Reply Riccardo Bonacini June 28, 2017 at 8:20 pm

    really interesting topic! see you NEXT!!

  • Reply James June 28, 2017 at 8:45 pm

    One of the most valuable video.

  • Reply The IBD Vegan June 28, 2017 at 8:51 pm


  • Reply Scoria June 28, 2017 at 10:25 pm

    Great I'm going to die

  • Reply flow_mang June 28, 2017 at 10:39 pm make a !!!

  • Reply Matthew Martin June 28, 2017 at 11:26 pm

    I had the same experience as everyone else commenting- I'm a long time vegetarian, recent vegan & my previous doctor was worried about my "low" white blood cell count. This makes more sense. I've since switched to a PCRM doctor (they promote plant based and presumably see more veg*ns) who never brought up my WBC count- I guess in their patient population, it wasn't remarkable.

  • Reply watchingvids101 June 28, 2017 at 11:54 pm

    Thank you for this information Dr Greger!

    My white blood cell count has been low for as long as I've been getting my blood tests (annually over the last 4 years). I was a bit worried as the doctors flagged it as a potential issue to monitor. I asked them if perhaps it was a normal count for me personally as my test results were quite consistent over the years and I wasn't ill. They didn't agree and thought it would be something I'd have to have regularly checked as I was borderline. I'm glad to know now that they were probably basing their normal white cell count off of the unhealthy average (I live in Australia and we also have a SA(ustralian)D diet)!

  • Reply SSBMan June 29, 2017 at 12:14 am

    The suspense…

  • Reply Lily Banana June 29, 2017 at 12:51 am

    I was told I had leukopenia but the doctor never treated it and it was viewed as "bad"

  • Reply Ash11112 June 29, 2017 at 1:40 am

    Love your videos-truly inspiring and as a scientist myself, I love to implement different things into my lifestyle for the hopes of extending lifespan and of course health span! I have stopped eating meat and follow a whole foods plant based diet thanks to your inspiration and pointing out the science to support how diet can change lives-its too bad most medical doctors don't share that opinion. Anyways I am hoping you can do a follow up on what can be done to lower WBC and also chronic inflammation? Thanks for doing what you do-my grandma too is much of the inspiration of why I do what I do today as well! Ashley

  • Reply rj979 June 29, 2017 at 1:43 am

    Long shot, but would anyone know why I get pus filled pimples on my chin pretty much daily? Eating antioxidants and broccoli helps, but it's short of curing me. White blood cells attacking the toxins my skin is getting rid of maybe?

  • Reply huang helen June 29, 2017 at 3:28 am

    Thank you so very much for this video. What a relief!! My red blood count has been rising steadily after I started taking B12 and avoiding coffee with my meals. Am no longer anemic. However, my white cell count has been consistently below the reference range. Doctors, lab technicians, friends are all telling me to eat red meat "'because you cant reduce the complete wholesome nutrition of meat to a B12 pill"

  • Reply Suzana Lima June 29, 2017 at 4:51 am


  • Reply Maui RoadRentals June 29, 2017 at 6:11 am

    You're an inspiration!! Love all your work and donate to your site! Just had 2.86 with an immediate retest the following day which came out to 3.00 . Got sent to a hematologist who ordered more thorough blood testing. I was quite worried until this video just magically appeared in my Youtube front page. I'm feeling better now. Been mostly vegan for about 9 months now. Please keep doing your thing for as long as possible. I feel like you're having a major impact on health and society.

  • Reply Joseph1NJ June 29, 2017 at 6:15 am

    Curious, those who have low WBC, have you ever had a CRP test?

  • Reply Daan June 29, 2017 at 6:35 am

    Could you do a video of what would be considered 'excess fat' (@ 1:44)?

    How do we know what is healthy and what is excess?

  • Reply 1a2b3c4d5 June 29, 2017 at 9:09 am

    Once you reduce your weight, stop smoking and drinking, etc. How do you reduce inflammation to lower your bodies response to increase your WBC count, thereby improve your quality of life and extend your life?

  • Reply Mary Zdrojewski June 29, 2017 at 10:42 am

    This is great news! I recently had labwork done at work, and the report they sent showed low white blood cells, but no explanation. I was worried about it, but now I know it's a good sign!

  • Reply Gerald Ford June 29, 2017 at 12:33 pm

    4.3 WBC count vegan checking in 🤓

  • Reply Stop I Want to get Off June 29, 2017 at 1:03 pm

    Yes, thank you for that. Over the years the Drs have been concerned because I have a low white blood cell count – my response was always I don't get sick, so I doubt that I need much, this didn't amuse them – but this video certainly makes me feel better and also to know that I have been right all along. Thank you Dr. Gregor.

  • Reply stringbender57 June 29, 2017 at 1:35 pm

    Excellent info! Another reason for eating a plant based starch based diet. I love it! 👏🏼🌽🍌🥔🍎🥒🍓

  • Reply Anton's Class June 29, 2017 at 1:57 pm

    Very interesting! I wonder what this will mean for HIV diagnosis, since a low WBC can be associates with HIV infection and "progression" of disease.

  • Reply Rayan K June 29, 2017 at 2:54 pm

    Awesome plz the next one and also if you may state other reasons why they may be high sometimes

  • Reply Charj00 June 29, 2017 at 3:57 pm

    Must Hear More

  • Reply anahit oha June 29, 2017 at 5:22 pm

    great info

  • Reply Laura Bair June 30, 2017 at 9:35 am

    Thank you Dr. Greger! Great information!

  • Reply tom smith June 30, 2017 at 11:43 am

    cliff hanger or what lol

  • Reply aurora hernandez June 30, 2017 at 2:58 pm

    This is a wake up call for me. My wbc is 11. 😯

  • Reply Michael James Slattery June 30, 2017 at 5:52 pm

    Michael is such a great name for such a great man.

  • Reply Aga Kuleta July 1, 2017 at 3:49 pm

    I've been seeing hematologist for over year and a half for neutropenia, now I know what to ask her next time.

  • Reply David Park July 3, 2017 at 8:15 am

    This guy is legit. Subscribed with all notifications ON.

  • Reply Gaani Tanadeh July 12, 2017 at 7:27 pm

    Wow Thanks. Is WBC lower than 3 normal? Doctor.

  • Reply huang helen July 18, 2017 at 10:50 pm
    High platelet count seems to correlate with cancer based on some researches. My RBC have been recovering after taking B12 but platelet and WBC remain low. Wonder if we can draw a similar conclusion from low platelet count as from low WBC?

  • Reply elvatoloco32 August 9, 2017 at 5:05 am

    I have 3.4 leukocytes count for the past year , Is that consider low. I suffer from IBS so I get alot off inflammation in my stomach daily unless I don't eat

  • Reply Diana A August 11, 2017 at 2:48 pm

    well thankgod lol everytime my blood test came back with a low white cell count I was getting pretty paranoid something was wrong with me.

  • Reply Janet Pemberton August 13, 2017 at 11:08 pm

    the title is misleading, he only speaks of high WBC levels and what that could indicate…

  • Reply h l August 18, 2017 at 3:11 pm

    Sir I just want to say your content and presentation style are excellent! thank you for providing this information

  • Reply nicole turner September 4, 2017 at 3:54 am

    okay I have to go to a hematologist on Wednesday and my primary care dr. told me my white blood cells are low and that way he recommended me to a hematologist. So I just realized ever since I started taking omeprazole for my Gerd (acid reflux) my wbc are low. I need help because I'm so nervous I just hope everything will be okay please pray for me I'm a nervous RECK!!!!

  • Reply Emi Romero September 7, 2017 at 8:36 pm

    It makes so much sense!!!

  • Reply Marietta Griffin October 3, 2017 at 12:01 am

    What type of meat good to eat for white blood cell or red blood cell s.

  • Reply ReSa Chase December 13, 2017 at 5:00 pm

    Is this liver enzymes? Mine to high

  • Reply Hulagu Kahn February 1, 2018 at 3:26 am

    Let me.guess. Is low?

  • Reply I GOT THE MEMO February 2, 2018 at 4:07 pm


  • Reply Abdure Graphics &Design February 22, 2018 at 5:54 pm

    Hi Dr thnks 💟 a lot for your information I have one questions if you got a chance to read my comment my leucocyte is 4.22 is I'm ok or there is some problems my age is 30 years old

  • Reply Bad Math April 9, 2018 at 10:58 pm

    I'm a recent vegan (less than a year) and I have low WBC. I am relieved to find this video, but I'm also wondering if this same information is true for low platelets, as I have both in the below normal levels. My platelets are exceptionally low.. if anyone has an answer please let me know

  • Reply Lisa Holmes April 30, 2018 at 1:24 am

    would that include a person who been born with heart touble that does not smoke .how can a smoker be more healther than a none smoker.(black lungs starts to show in a smoker) long time smokers and oxygen level is not high but low.I have worked in respertory ]atients who I have changed tek a tube that help them breath that is placed in their neck.. some has speech box to help them communicate. I was a can also a RST for many of years living in Michigan.

  • Reply Joe May 14, 2018 at 4:41 pm

    So are you going to answer the question of what does a low white blood cell count mean?  Or are you just going to ramble about high white blood cell counts?

  • Reply mattimus13 May 16, 2018 at 5:57 pm

    Exactly what I thought, thank you for being a voice of common sense

  • Reply iLove iKonSong May 18, 2018 at 11:01 pm

    So all this time when I had a wbc of 2 billion I was really healthy?

  • Reply leleslie45 June 13, 2018 at 3:19 pm

    I've had chronic low white blood cell count for most of my adult life. Although various doctors found it worrisome this is apparently good news!

  • Reply /ibestr June 25, 2018 at 10:06 pm

    i have a slightly low Wbc (3.7), neutrophils (1.6) and platelet (148) count. Glad i shouldn't be concerned, but not sure about my platelet levels.

  • Reply velly jatt June 27, 2018 at 5:33 pm

    My wbc level has been at level 3500 for past 6 months. I am worried but doctor called me not to worry.

  • Reply hibo hassan August 9, 2018 at 2:25 pm

    I’ve been told my wbc is 0.8 is that bad. I hardly get sick and I have no symptoms. They’ve referred me to a haematologist and I’m scared it could be Leukemia as stated by the dr. Please someone reply if they’ve had a Similar experience and what was your outcome.

  • Reply beverly francis September 3, 2018 at 8:30 am

    Thank you for this video doctor. It reassures me because my wbc read low and I was very concerned.

  • Reply Jim Barr Official September 6, 2018 at 1:41 am

    I've been 4.5, 6.8, 4.4, and the latest: 3.9 in the last 4 years. Just started 7 months ago doing a big salad in the evening, some carb at breakfast, and protein at lunch. No rice, limited bread (some, but much less than before). Eating less in the evening, along with 1000 mg of cinnamon bark, 1000 iu of Vitamin D and 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar in the evening before bed mixed in water. All other differentials are normal. I have ulcerative colitis that is well controlled with no inflammatory makers (sed rate is <2 and no white blood cells in stool – both very good). WBC count was flagged as below 4.5, so low – but I guess not to worry. I have another WBC scheduled in 3 months time. Feel fine. Thanks for this video.

  • Reply identity Europa September 8, 2018 at 5:53 pm

    I have 3.7 white blood cells on my test. I pass with flying colours on everything else. I exercise and eat well, sleep well most nights. My doctor said I am healthy. I have no other accompanying symptoms so , I just need to get it up a few points, right?

  • Reply Omar Guerrero September 20, 2018 at 2:10 am

    Just turned 26 a couple of weeks ago, my first bloodwork in my life done 2.5 year ago at 23… everything was in "normal range" but I wanted optimum levels.
    Glucose was 87 and WBC 8.2 back then, last bloodwork a month ago…. glucose is 75 and WBC 5.47

    I changed my life for good thanks for the video Dr Greger.

  • Reply Dr. Jé October 4, 2018 at 7:08 pm

    I Am healthy never noticed the numbers, left ER it was "Low" under the "normal" 4 – my take away- normal does not always mean "good"

  • Reply Joe Smith December 10, 2018 at 3:51 am

    Lupus can lower your white blood cell count.

  • Reply Sharon Macauley December 29, 2018 at 12:01 am

    I had a very similar experience to many of those who commented below. My WBC was below "normal" range, was referred to a hematologist, who I continued to see twice a year for 3 years; they could not find anything wrong with me. I am SO relieved to hear this information, I am so thankful for what you shared, and I LOVE that you state and show research to back what you are saying. WOW, I am so happy!!! Thanks again!!

  • Reply Dr Rajendra sheregar Rajendra January 13, 2019 at 4:44 pm

    Corpuscles significance/Corpuscles conservation in haemostatis Corpuscles plasmodium phagocytoses at institute of medicos open Google doc Rajendra sheregar See videos images discriptions Medical science institute

  • Reply mustafa muhammed January 18, 2019 at 4:15 pm

    All do respect to the information presented in this video. Its imperitive to understand that fat does not cause any inflammation as long as its not refined. Butter ghee, coconut oil, and extra virgin olive oil are completely safe to consume in moderation, and have nothing to do with cardiovascular diseases. Sounds confusing? Yes, but its important to understand that inflammation is actually what causes lipid oxidation, and this is what really causes a wide spectrum of cardiovascular diseases. Lipids are key to our cells, remember phospholipids comprise much of our cell membranes.

  • Reply Laila Ali January 18, 2019 at 10:16 pm

    good thing to hear …. I was reading my last CBC and got worried about my low WBCs , and this was relief thanx …….. I guess will say vegan lol

  • Reply Lolly B February 8, 2019 at 9:36 am

    How do I reduce my WBC ? I'm wfpb and have a neuro autoimmune disease. My wbc is usually 9 to 15 range

  • Reply Preciousbaby Face February 14, 2019 at 3:29 pm

    I'm 20 I weigh 224 pounds and my height is 5'9 and yesterday when I went to the doctor she told my my white cells is low that's bad I'm very concerned

  • Reply Stef S February 16, 2019 at 2:08 am

    What about a low anion gap?
    I’ve had low wbcs for years but haven’t been sick in over 20 years

  • Reply Suranga Dilas February 16, 2019 at 1:52 pm

    2025 Guvasi vendare i poverini.White blood..e rede…

  • Reply Rey Doronila February 26, 2019 at 11:58 pm

    Guys it is okey that u donate your white blood cells? That could not effect to my health?

  • Reply CallMeSupreme March 5, 2019 at 11:43 pm

    I've been told mine was low an I'm being sent out to a specialist wondering what's the issue .. I cut out alot of foods I use to eat ..

  • Reply Paradiddle44 March 10, 2019 at 3:41 am

    Great video. 4 years ago mine was 3.0. Has a test last week and was 3.0 again. Have gotten sick maybe 5 times in 4 years and feel fine. Dr didn’t even bring it up when we went over results.

  • Reply Anthony Taylor April 20, 2019 at 1:12 pm


  • Reply Benjamin Dame April 21, 2019 at 3:40 pm

    Here's some additional info on your white blood cells

  • Reply T H April 27, 2019 at 1:13 pm

    "Normal" is absolutely the wrong word to use here.

  • Reply Shady June 29, 2019 at 6:29 pm

    The ideal range for WBC video mentioned at the end of this one:

  • Reply MrMike5814 July 20, 2019 at 4:26 am

    an what if a Dr tells you that you where born without white blood cells?

  • Reply Mae Romano July 26, 2019 at 3:25 pm

    I have 4.6 wbc the normal said is 5 to 10 is it considered low? My lymphocytes is 44 a little bit high! What’s that mean my doctor didn’t say anything

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