Low White Blood Cell Count in Endurance Athletes

I arrived at my annual check up ready to be congratulated on another year of excellent health.  My physician had a different idea and started the conversation by mentioning that she called our local oncologist for her thoughts on my blood test.  Little does my physician know that I have spent many appointments with our oncologist during Zachary and Ann’s cancer treatment.

I felt my heart literally stop.  For one moment I felt pure panic.  How would I even begin to tell my family I had cancer???  As my heart restarted, I heard my physician explain that she was concerned about my low white blood cell count (3.7).  She consulted the oncologist to see if she had read any studies about low white blood cell counts in endurance athletes.  The oncologist had not heard of this before and suggested I consider further tests for an autoimmune disease.

Thanks to Endurance Corner, Gordo and Dr. Larry Creswell’s exellent article What is Your Blood Telling You, I politely declined further testing and explained that I am normal in the context of my peers.  I did agree to retest a month after Ironman Texas.

In case you are in a similar situation, here are some helpful links:

Could my Level of White Cells Harm Me?

Active recovery and post-exercise white blood cell count, free fatty acids, and hormones in endurance athletes.

Cortisol and it’s Effect on White Blood Cells

Leucopenia and Over Reaching Versus Over Training

Lower white blood cell counts in elite athletes training for highly aerobic sports.




1 Reply to "Low White Blood Cell Count in Endurance Athletes"

  • comment-avatar
    April 30, 2012 (2:33 pm)

    I am a runner and I am going through the same thing!