White blood cells play many vital roles, primarily within the immune system. Also called leukocytes, white blood cells are sent through the bloodstream when the immune system detects foreign invaders such as viral or bacterial infections and then lead the fight against the illness- or disease-causing cells. In healthy individuals, the body constantly produces new white blood cells, but many factors can lead to lower-than-normal counts and wide-ranging adverse effects.
Bone marrow, the innermost layer of bones, is a spongy substance responsible for producing blood cells. Often, low white blood cell counts are a result of problems with this tissue. Cancer and infections can disrupt the bone marrow processes, as can treatments such as radiation.
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