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A Harrowing Account of Denture Cream Zinc Poisonng

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A recent article in The New York Times does a really good job of highlighting the nightmare that is denture cream zinc poisoning. It also illustrates how difficult the condition is to diagnose.  In fact, the doctor in this case was not even aware that denture cream could lead to neurological problems until he encountered the victim whose story is told by  the Times.

The woman in The New York times article experienced problems with  balance and walking.  Her  feet were numb, and she had lost the ability to feel hot, cold or  a light touch from her knees to her feet.    Cancer, a B12 deficiency, and even West Nile virus  were ruled out as possible causes. But according to The New York Times, blood tests  for these conditions yielded an important clue:   Copper levels were at nearly zero, and zinc was at twice the normal level.

While small amounts of zinc are important to maintaining good health, too much over time can lead to copper deficiency.  The patient’s doctor surmised that this imbalance was behind her problems. Finally, upon interviewing the woman, he learned that she regularly used large amounts of zinc-containing denture cream – a tube every day or so – to keep loose fitting dentures in place.

Once the cause of her problem was determined, the patient switched to a cream that did not contain zinc.  According to the Times, a year later the patient is feeling better, but is undergoing physical therapy because she still has difficulty walking.

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