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The Common Cold


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Hi folks:




The above link claims that:  "  .......  And it’s called the common cold for good reason: according to the Canadian Centre For Occupational Health and Safety, the average adult will be hit with up to five infections every year".  Of course use of the words "up to" pretty much negates whatever meaning the sentence might have contained.  But nevertheless, does the average adult really get colds that often?


I have had maybe two in the past ten years.  Do other people on CR find the same, or is there something strange about me?


And might cold frequency be an adequate measure of immune system effectiveness?  And is there a direct relationship between WBC and comon cold frequency?






"The unverified conventional wisdom is almost invariably mistaken."

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Thanks, Saul.  And here is a comment from Wikipedia:


"It is the most frequent infectious disease in humans with the average adult getting two to three colds a year and the average child getting between six and twelve.[2]"


Rodney.  .




"The unverified conventional wisdom is almost invariably mistaken."

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Great topic Rodney! And I love citizen science.


I too very rarely (less than every two years) get a cold or flu, despite having a daughter in high school and a wife who tutors many high schoolers, both of whom get sick with a cold or flu several times per year. 


To make our citizen science a little more rigorous, I've created a very short CR Cold and Flu Survey to collect the data. It would be great if everyone reading this would take 1 minute to take the poll, and I'll share the results in a few days.





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Regarding the relationship between WBC and BMI there are some data here that may be of interest:  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4562186/


Table 1 indicates higher BMI is associated with higher WBC, but the difference isn't huge, and the lowest BMI group they looked at had, of course (!), an average BMI of ~24.  It was their 'normal weight' group, but almost everyone in their group was, unsurprisingly, at the very top end of the range!


More data are to be found in the full text of this:


"  Reference intervals of complete blood count constituents are highly correlated to waist circumference: Should obese patients have their own “normal values?”  "

Jennifer Vuong, Yuelin Qiu, Myanh La, Gwen Clarke, Dorine W. Swinkels, and George Cembrowski

Body mass index (BMI), the prevalent indicator of obesity, is not easily grasped by patients nor physicians.
Waist circumference (WC) is correlated to obesit y, is bet ter understood and has a stronger relationship to
the metabolic syndrome. We compiled WC, complete blood count (CBC) parameters as well as other
per tinent data of 6766 25–55-year-old US volunteers sampled in the US National Health and Nutrition
Examination Survey, in the years 2005–2010. To determine reference intervals of t ypical US patients visiting
their clinician, we used minimal exclusion criteria. We compiled hemoglobin, red blood cell count,
hematocrit, mean corpuscular volume (MCV), mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration, mean cell
hemoglobin (MCH), red cell distribution width (RDW), platelet count, mean platelet volume, and counts of
white blood cells (WBC), neutrophils, lymphocy tes, monocy tes, eosinophils, and basophils. In addition, we
also compiled serum C reactive protein and serum iron. The three major US races were studied and
reference interval diagrams were constructed for each CBC parameter plot ted against WC. WBC count,
RDW, lymphocy te, neutrophil, and red blood cell count increase with WC. Conversely, serum iron and MCH
and MCV decrease. These relationships may be related to insulin resistance and chronic activation of the
immune system and the resulting low-grade inflammator y state. WC is a strong predictor for many CBC
parameters, suggesting that WC should be taken into account when evaluating blood count results.
Clinicians who take care of obese patients should be aware of altered hematology and investigate and treat

Am. J. Hematol. 89:67 1–677, 2014. VC 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


PMID:  24644218




One possible explanation for these distressingly unremarkable data might be that the relationship between BMI and WBC is not linear  ..........  perhaps WBC accelerates downwards as BMI drops gradually below 24?


Alternatively, maybe hunger is required to cause a substantial decline in WBC?  And the subjects above, averaging a BMI of 24, did not have a BMI of 24 because they were caloric restrictors, but because that happened to be their eat-as-much-as-you-want set point?


Anyway I remain convinced, until I see persuasive evidence to the contrary, that a low WBC associated with caloric restriction is indicative of excellent immune status   ........  with the example of a caloric restrictor with a low WBC being nearly immune to the common cold without even noticing the immune system destroying it on arrival.


To make an analogy: it is almost as if the low-WBC caloric restrictor's immune system identifies the common cold virus as it approaches the city before it gets to the gate, and acts accordingly.  Those with higher BMIs and WBCs don't recognize it even at the gate, and let it in.  Then their immune systems have to unleash all kinds of symptoms in order to eradicate it when it is already within the walls.  The common cold virus in this case is a Trojan Horse that the caloric restrictor's more intelligent immune system recognizes for what it is.


: ^ )))))






"The unverified conventional wisdom (that high WBC is good) is almost invariably mistaken."

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