NK Cell Count

A lesser-known topic in the check-up and screening process are natural killer cells, also known as NK cells. With their gloomy sounding name, it’s important to understand what they do, and why it’s important to test for them.

What is an NK Cell?

Natural kills (NK) cells are a particular type of white blood cell with an increased ability to eliminate cancerous cells. While NK cells only make up only 1% of all white blood cells, they are special in that they specifically target viruses, pathogens, and cancerous cells. NK cells are over 100 times stronger than your regular white cells in protecting the body. In fact, their only job is to kill cancer cells and viruses, leaving the rest of your cells intact and safe. Every organ has its own set of NK cells to protect it. In females, the womb has the most NK cells, which is why an NK cell count is also a useful test for women experiencing fertility issues.

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What does it mean to Have NK Cell Count in the Blood?

NK cells are measured in the blood to help us assess the risk of cancer and other harmful microbes residing in your body. As the NK cells are the first defense for your body in fighting the spread of cancer, a low NK cell count shows an increased risk of developing cancer.

If a patient already has cancer, the NK cell levels are a helpful indicator for doctors to assess the strength of the radiation levels tolerated during therapy.

An NK cell count test for fertility issues can reveal the opposite, with a high count attacking, rather than protecting the pregnancy, causing a miscarriage. High natural killer cells may even prevent someone from getting pregnant in the first place.

Responding to Lower NK Cell Count and NK Activity

Thankfully, if your test results show an imbalance in your NK cell count, there are lots of lifestyle changes you can make to correct that.

We know the impact of stress on the body and the same is true for NK cell counts – reducing stress from your life is an important first step. You’ll also want to get more exercise and make some dietary changes. This includes ensuring your diet is rich in vitamin C and E, beta-carotene, and mushrooms. There are supplements that also have a positive effect on the immune system, NK cells, and their activity levels and this can be discussed with our experienced doctor.

For fertility issues, a tailored treatment plan is necessary, and often steroids stop the NK cells attacking the pregnancy, particularly in the early stages of fetal development.

Our NK cell activity test is recommended if you have a family history of cancer, or an increased risk of cancer due to smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, obesity or insomnia. To book your NK cell activity test, please get in touch with our friendly team.