Saturday 7 February 2015

Copper bracelets for health

It's easy to find shops selling copper bracelets and other copper-based things to wear that it is claimed will help reduce chronic pain and swelling, reduce the impact of arthritis and more. But does it work?

Copper is a relatively common element that we need to consume in trace quantities for a number of functions of the body, but we get plenty of copper in our diet and an excess can result in liver damage and brain deterioration, so it's not something to take as a supplement without medical advice. But how about wearing it?

The immediate scientific response is to wonder how wearing a copper bracelet, say, could have any impact on pains in other parts of the body. One claim, for instance, is that the body can draw metal out of the bracelet to help with cartilage replacement. There is no mechanism by which this could happen - and even if copper was absorbed, it would do more harm than good. This seems little more than an appeal to magic.

A study was carried out in the UK in 2013 which reported that wearing copper bracelets had no impact on these problems, and that any perceived benefit from wearing copper was simply a placebo effect.

On a separate claim, it is just possible that copper compounds, appropriately applied, could have some antibacterial benefits - but it isn't enough to wear a piece of metallic copper, and there is no evidence as yet of a wearable product containing copper or copper compounds have such a benefit.

So by all means wear a copper bracelet if you think it looks nice - but don't expect it to make you healthier.

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