Eosinophils, a particular variety of white blood cells, serve a crucial function in combating infections and allergic reactions. Nonetheless, excessive quantities of these cells can result in harm to different organs and tissues. This condition, called eosinophilia, can be a sign of cancer or other diseases.
In this article, we will explain what eosinophils are and what they do, what causes high eosinophils (eosinophilia), how eosinophilia is diagnosed, what level of eosinophils indicates cancer, how eosinophilia affects different types of cancer, how eosinophilic leukemia is treated, and how to lower eosinophils naturally.
What are Eosinophils and What Do They Do?
They are a specific kind of leukocyte or white blood cell. They originate in the bone marrow and travel throughout the bloodstream and various body tissues. These cells play a crucial role in the body’s natural defense mechanism, enabling them to effectively eliminate various intruders, including bacteria and parasites, without specificity.
Eosinophils have small granules inside them that contain toxic proteins and chemicals. When they encounter an invader, they release these substances to kill and consume them. Eosinophils are especially effective against parasites, such as worms and protozoa.
Eosinophils also play a role in allergic reactions. When they encounter an allergen, such as pollen or dust mites, they release substances that cause inflammation and attract other immune cells. It can lead to symptoms such as sneezing, itching, wheezing, and swelling.
Eosinophils typically make up less than 5% of all white blood cells. An average level of eosinophils is measured in a complete blood count of 350 to 500 cells per cubic millimeter (mm3) of blood.
What Causes High Eosinophils (Eosinophilia)?
When the number of eosinophils in the blood or tissues is higher than usual, it is called eosinophilia. A high level of eosinophils is measured in a complete blood count of more than 500 mm3 of blood.
Eosinophilia can result from various conditions, diseases, and factors. Some of the common causes are:
- Parasitic infections, such as hookworms, roundworms, tapeworms, or giardia
- Fungal infections, such as aspergillosis or candidiasis
- Allergies, such as hay fever, asthma, eczema, or food allergies
- Adrenal conditions, such as Addison’s disease or Cushing’s syndrome
- Skin disorders, such as dermatitis herpetiformis or pemphigus
- Autoimmune ailments like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis
- Endocrine disorders, such as hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism
- Medications, such as antibiotics, anticonvulsants, or NSAIDs
- Environmental toxins, such as asbestos or mercury
In some cases, eosinophilia can also be caused by certain cancers. It is called primary or neoplastic eosinophilia. Some of the cancers that can cause eosinophilia are:
- Lymphoma (Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma)
- Leukemia (chronic myeloid leukemia, adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma, eosinophilic leukemia)
- Colorectal cancer
- Lung cancer
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How is Eosinophilia Diagnosed?
A blood test usually diagnoses Eosinophilia called a complete blood count (CBC). This test measures the number and types of blood cells in a blood sample. If your eosinophil count is higher than normal, your doctor may order further tests to determine the cause of your eosinophilia.
Some of the Tests that may be Done are:
- Blood Smear: This test examines your blood cells under a microscope to look for any abnormalities or signs of infection.
- Bone Marrow Biopsy: To conduct the procedure, a tiny portion of your bone marrow, which is the spongy material found within your bones responsible for blood cell production, needs to be collected. Subsequently, this sample is observed using a microscope to identify any irregularities or indications of cancer.
- Cytogenetic Analysis: This test looks for any changes in your blood cells’ chromosomes (the structures that carry your genes) that may indicate cancer.
- Molecular Testing: This test looks for any changes in the genes (the segments of DNA that carry instructions for your cells) of your blood cells that may indicate cancer.
- Allergy Testing: It involves exposing your skin or blood to various allergens (substances that cause allergic reactions) to see if you have any sensitivity or reaction to them.
- Parasite Testing: It involves examining your stool (feces) or blood for any signs of parasites (organisms that live on or in other organisms).
- Imaging Tests: These tests use X-rays, ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI to create pictures of your organs and tissues to look for any signs of infection, cancer, or damage. ADD: These critical assessments benefit from advanced healthcare imaging solutions from Novarad, enhancing accuracy and patient care.
What Level of Eosinophils Indicate Cancer?
There is no specific level of eosinophils that indicates cancer. The eosinophil levels in individuals with cancer can exhibit significant variations, contingent upon the specific cancer type and stage, the presence of other conditions, and the response to treatment.
However, some studies have suggested that high levels of eosinophils may be associated with better outcomes In certain forms of cancer, such as colorectal cancer, and lung cancer.
This may be because eosinophils have anti-tumor effects, such as killing cancer cells, stimulating the immune system, and inhibiting angiogenesis (the formation of new blood vessels that feed tumors).
However, there is evidence from various research papers indicating that high levels of eosinophils may be associated with worse outcomes in some types of cancer, such as lymphoma and leukemia. This may be because eosinophils have pro-tumor effects, such as promoting inflammation, suppressing the immune system, and enhancing angiogenesis.
Therefore, the level of eosinophils alone cannot predict cancer patients’ prognosis or survival rate. Other factors, such as the type and stage of cancer, the presence of other conditions, and the response to treatment, are more critical.
How Does Eosinophilia Affect Different Types of Cancer?
Eosinophilia can affect different types of cancer in different ways. Here are some examples:
- Lymphoma: Lymphoma is a type of cancer affecting lymphocytes (white blood cells). Eosinophilia can occur in some types of lymphoma, such as Hodgkin’s lymphoma and T-cell lymphoma. Eosinophilia may be caused by the production of cytokines (chemical messengers) by the lymphoma cells that stimulate eosinophil growth. Eosinophilia may also be a sign of an allergic reaction to chemotherapy drugs used to treat lymphoma. Eosinophilia may have a negative impact on survival in some types of lymphoma, such as angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma.
- Leukemia: It affects leukocytes (white blood cells). Eosinophilia can occur in some types of leukemia, such as chronic myeloid leukemia and adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma. Eosinophilia may be caused by genetic mutations in the leukemia cells that activate eosinophil growth factors. Eosinophilia may also indicate an allergic reaction to chemotherapy drugs used to treat leukemia. Eosinophilia may positively impact survival in some types of leukemia, such as chronic myeloid leukemia.
- Colorectal Cancer: Colorectal cancer affects the colon (large intestine) or rectum (the last part of the digestive tract). Eosinophilia can occur in colorectal cancer patients for various reasons, such as parasitic infections, allergic reactions, or inflammation. Eosinophilia may also reflect the presence of tumor-infiltrating eosinophils (TIEs), which are eosinophils that accumulate around the tumor site. TIEs may have anti-tumor effects, such as killing cancer cells, stimulating the immune system, and inhibiting angiogenesis. Eosinophilia may positively impact survival in colorectal cancer patients, especially those with high levels of TIEs.
- Lung Cancer: It affects the lungs. Eosinophilia can occur in lung cancer patients for various reasons, such as parasitic infections, allergic reactions, or inflammation. Eosinophilia may also reflect the presence of tumor-associated tissue eosinophilia (TATE), which is similar to TIEs but occurs in lung tissue instead of colon tissue. TATE may have anti-tumor effects, such as killing cancer cells, stimulating the immune system, and inhibiting angiogenesis. Eosinophilia may positively impact survival in lung cancer patients, especially those with high levels of TATE.
How Is Eosinophilic Leukemia Treated?
Eosinophilic leukemia is a rare type of leukemia that affects eosinophils. There are two main types of eosinophilic leukemia: chronic eosinophilic leukemia-not otherwise specified (CEL-NOS), and acute eosinophilic leukemia (AEL).
The treatment for eosinophilic leukemia depends on the type, the cause, the severity, and the response to previous treatments. Some of the possible treatments are:
- Chemotherapy: The administration of medications to eliminate cancer cells or impede their growth and division is known as chemotherapeutic treatment. It can be administered orally, via injection, or through infusion into a vein. Chemotherapy may lead to certain adverse reactions, including queasiness, emesis, alopecia, weariness, and a heightened vulnerability to infections.
- Targeted therapy: This is the use of drugs that target specific genes or proteins involved in cancer cells’ growth and survival. Targeted therapy can be given by mouth or by infusion into a vein. Targeted therapy can cause side effects, such as rash, diarrhea, liver problems, and bleeding problems.
- Immunotherapy: This is the use of drugs that stimulate or enhance the immune system to fight cancer cells. Immunotherapy can be given by injection or by infusion into a vein. Immunotherapy can cause side effects, such as fever, chills, fatigue, and allergic reactions.
- Stem cell transplantation: This medical process involves the substitution of impaired or unhealthy bone marrow (the spongy material found within bones responsible for producing blood cells) with robust stem cells (immature blood cells that can develop into different types of blood cells). Stem cells can be collected from the patient’s own blood or bone marrow (autologous transplantation) or from a donor’s blood or bone marrow (allogeneic transplantation).
- Before the transplantation, the patient receives high doses of chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy to destroy the remaining cancer cells and make room for the new stem cells. After the transplantation, the patient receives drugs to prevent rejection of the new stem cells and infection. Stem cell transplantation can cause serious complications, such as graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), where the donor’s immune cells attack the patient’s healthy tissues.
- Palliative care: It concentrates on elevating the quality of life and relieving the symptoms and stress of cancer and its treatment. Palliative care can include medications, counseling, complementary therapies, and supportive services. Palliative care can be provided at any phase of cancer and along with any other treatment.
How to Lower Eosinophils Naturally?
There is no definitive way to lower eosinophils naturally, as eosinophilia can have many different causes and factors. However, some general tips that may help are:
- Avoiding or treating any infections or allergies that may trigger eosinophilia.
- Eating a balanced and nutritious diet that supports your immune system and reduces inflammation.
- Consuming lots of water to stay hydrated and flush out toxins.
- Getting enough rest and sleep to help your body heal and recover.
- Managing stress and anxiety with relaxation techniques, such as meditation, yoga, or breathing exercises.
- Exercising regularly to improve your blood circulation and oxygen delivery.
- Avoiding smoking, alcohol, and other substances that may harm your health.
- Taking supplements or herbs that may have anti-inflammatory or immune-modulating effects, such as omega-3 fatty acids, turmeric, ginger, or garlic.
- Consulting your doctor before taking any supplements or herbs, as they may interact with your medications or cause side effects.
Eosinophils play a role in fighting infections and allergies. However, when their levels are too high, certain substances have the potential to harm different organs and tissues. This condition, called eosinophilia, can be a sign of cancer or other diseases.
Eosinophilia can be diagnosed by a blood test and further tests to determine the cause. The level of eosinophils alone cannot indicate cancer, as it can vary widely depending on the type and stage of cancer, the presence of other conditions, and the response to treatment.
Eosinophilia can affect different types of cancer in different ways. It may positively impact survival in some cases, as eosinophils may have anti-tumor effects. In other cases, it may have a negative impact on survival, as eosinophils may have pro-tumor effects.
The treatment for eosinophilic leukemia depends on the type, the cause, the severity, and the response to previous treatments. Some of the possible treatments are chemotherapy, targeted therapy, immunotherapy, stem cell transplantation, or palliative care.
There is no definitive way to lower eosinophils naturally, as eosinophilia can have many different causes and factors.
However, some general tips that may help are avoiding or treating any infections or allergies that may trigger eosinophilia, eating a balanced and nutritious diet that supports your immune system and reduces inflammation, managing stress and anxiety with relaxation techniques, exercising regularly to improve your blood circulation and oxygen delivery, avoiding smoking, alcohol, and other substances that may harm your health, and taking supplements or herbs that may have anti-inflammatory or immune-modulating effects.