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Originally published January 18 2008

High-dose copper reverses heart enlargement

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) Relatively high doses of copper may help reverse unhealthy enlargement of the heart, according to a new study published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine. The research was led by scientists at the University of Louisville Medical Center in Kentucky, in collaboration with Agricultural Research Service scientists from the Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center in North Dakota.

The researchers fed a group of mice with enlarged hearts the equivalent of three times the human recommended daily allowance of copper. The mice that had been fed copper experienced a reversal of cardiac hypertrophy -- enlarged heart -- symptoms, whereas the non-supplemented mice did not.

This is the first study to exhibit such an effect, and other scientists have not yet replicated it. In addition, it is still unknown if the effect would translate to humans. Nonetheless, the scientists are optimistic. They point out that while the doses used in the study are high, they are "well below today's safe upper limit for copper."

Copper is a naturally occurring element that is essential for human health. It is needed for various enzymes, for biological electron transport and for aiding in iron uptake. Copper deficiency can produce anemia-like symptoms.

However, the metal can be toxic in high quantities, producing symptoms similar to that of arsenic poisoning. In addition, the human digestive tract appears to have a very limited ability to distinguish between zinc and copper. This means that excessive intake of one of these essential nutrients can lead to deficiency in the other.

The maximum safe level for copper in drinking water is usually set at between 1.5 and 2 milligrams per liter. The maximum safe human daily intake is 10 milligrams.

The recommended daily allowance is 0.9 milligrams per day. By comparison, the equivalent human dose to that given in the animal study is 2.7 milligrams. This is still less than one-third the maximum safe daily intake of 10 milligrams.

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