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Smoking as a Cause of Erythrocytosis

ARTHUR L. SAGONE Jr., M.D.; and STANLEY P. BALCERZAK, M.D., F.A.C.P.
[+] Article and Author Information

Grant support: grants from the United Health Fund, Central Ohio Heart Associates grant 70-34, and Oncology Training grant TO-1-CA05192-06. Dr. Sagone is a Leukemia Scholar of America.

Reported in part at the American Federation for Clinical Research, May 1973.

▸Requests for reprints should be addressed to Arthur L. Sagone, Jr., M.D., Division of Hematology and Oncology, Ohio State University Hospital, 410 West 10th Avenue, Columbus, OH 43210.


Columbus, Ohio


Ann Intern Med. 1975;82(4):512-515. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-82-4-512
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Five smokers had erythrocyte masses sufficiently larger than normal to pose a problem in the differential diagnosis of polycythemia. Evaluation excluded lung disease, shunt physiology, hemoglobin with increased oxygen affinity, erythropoietin-producing tumor, renal disease, or polycythemia rubra vera as the primary cause of erythrocytosis in these patients. All were found to have levels of carboxyhemoglobin sufficient to cause clinically significant hypoxemia and to account for the increased erythrocyte masses. In two patients the erythrocytosis improved when they stopped smoking. Heavy smoking is a reversible cause of polycythemia and should be considered in the differential diagnosis of this problem.

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