Sunday, November 25, 2012

The White Blood Cell and Exercise-Anecdotal Evidence

There are plenty of studies and articles out there that support the idea that moderate exercise during cancer treatment is beneficial.  We know that it helps combat fatigue in the cancer patient.

But there are not a lot of articles out there that specifically address if exercise can increase your white blood cell counts (WBC) during treatment.   Many articles speak to the role of exercise in strengthening your "immunity", but not specifically in regards to elevating your WBC. 

So here is what we in the business call "Anecdotal Evidence".   Anecdotal evidence is when you have some information that has not been backed up by years of studies, or has only been studied in small groups or populations.   Usually in the medical world we base what we tell you on evidence from research that has already been performed.  Every article you read will refer you to a research study or supporting article on which the current article was based.  Some bibliographies in a medical journal can go on for pages and pages.

But since this is my blog and not a medical journal, I will share with you some "anecdotal evidence" from a couple of fabulous survivors that I know.

These ladies found that their chemotherapy regimens were dropping their white blood cell counts, as we all know that they do. (See my previous blog posting for information about white blood cells in general:

Several times these patients had to delay having their chemo for a week until their WBC increased.

After increasing their daily exercise regimens, they noticed that they had subsequent WBC elevations and did not have to have their chemo "held" or delayed due to low WBC counts.  This happened several times.  They hadn't changed any other variable from before.

Many times as health professionals,  we might not "catch" something like this, because we don't draw blood tests daily.  We usually only draw blood once a cycle or twice a cycle depending on the drug regimen.  These women had their blood drawn a day or two after exercise increases. 

White blood cell amongst red blood cells

The moral of the story?  You can do your own search of the literature (hey, it's Sunday and I'd rather be reading something else besides the history of the WBC!!!!).  Or, you can try it yourself!

Here are some links for articles about exercise and white blood cells:

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