High MCV and Alcohol Abuse
High MCV and alcohol abuse may be correlated, but there are too many intervening variables and factors for an
exact determination of alcohol intake.
A Laboratory Test That Can Identify Alcoholism
Unfortunately, there are few, if any definitive laboratory tests that can identify alcoholism.
Alcohol abuse and dependency are mainly diagnosed by doctors via screening surveys.
Lab tests help doctors, clinicians, and lab technicians evaluate organ function and help detect chronic and
relapse alcohol drinking in individuals who deny their drinking behavior.
For quite a few years, clinicians have had access to a group of biomarkers that indicate a person's alcohol
intake. MCV is one of these biomarkers.
Measure of mean corpuscular volume (MCV), an index of red blood cell size, increases as a person consumes more
Abnormality in the size of red blood cells typically confirms alcoholism.
Even though MCV has a high correlation with alcohol intake, however, this measurement, by itself, is not the
most accurate screening mechanism for alcoholism.
MCV, Hematocrit, Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse
The MCV index, then, is a not a definite or absolute lab indicator of alcohol intake. MCV is nonspecific due to
the fact that various factors may contribute to the change in size of RBCs.
Furthermore, because a person's MCV can remain elevated for several months after a person abstains from drinking
alcohol, it is possible that a person could be abstinent and still show an abnormally high MCV. Nevertheless, MCV
adds to the existence and evidence of alcoholism and alcohol abuse.
In other words, high MCV and alcohol abuse may be correlated, but there are too many intervening variables and
factors for an exact determination of alcohol intake.
Hematocrit is a measure of the number of red blood cells as well as the size of these cells. MCV is the
measurement of the average size of the red blood cells (RBC).
The MCV index increases when the RBCs are larger than normal (macrocytic) and decreases when the RBCs are
smaller than normal (microcytic).
The MCV index can be calculated by multiplying the hematocrit percentage by ten and then dividing the result by
the RBC (red blood cell) count. The result is typically reported in femtoliters (fl.). The normal MCV range for
people without increased or decreased RBCs is usually 80-96 fl.
Readings as high as 121 fl., however, can be observed in alcoholics. MCV that is calculated by automated
equipment is compared to RBC morphology on a peripheral blood smear. This determines the accuracy of the MCV test.
Any variation indicates either faulty equipment or technician error.
Conclusion: High MCV and Alcohol Abuse
Due to the fact that there are few, if any definitive laboratory tests that can identify alcoholism, doctors use
various tests to evaluate organ function and help detect chronic and relapse alcohol drinking in people who are
less than honest about their drinking behavior. Measure of mean corpuscular volume (MCV) is a lab test that
indicates a person's alcohol intake.
While high MCV and alcohol abuse are correlated, MCV does not result in an exact determination
of alcohol intake. It does, however, add important information that helps indicate the possible existence and
evidence of alcoholism and alcohol abuse.