AUG 09, 2017 3:35 PM PDT

Diagnosed: Man's Denture Cream Left Him Wheelchair-Bound

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

Image credit: Pixabay.com

Sometimes medical problems are brought on by the most common household items. In the case of a 62-year-old man, doctors believe it was his prolonged use of denture cream that led to muscle weakness and, eventually, to him being wheelchair-bound.

The previously independent patient reportedly sought medical help for tingling, numbness, and weakness in his legs. Over the course of 6 months, his symptoms worsened and rendered him housebound. An MRI scan revealed degeneration in his spinal cord. While a number of lab tests came back normal, one result stood out as remarkable: levels of copper in his blood was lower than normal.

The man was later diagnosed with copper deficiency myelopathy (CDM), a progressive disease of the spinal cord, brought on by insufficient copper. This was somewhat surprising to doctors, considering that the human body needs relatively little of copper to function normally. They suspected some other factor was impacting the levels of copper in his body.

Further investigation revealed a likely smoking gun: the man’s denture cream. As it turns out, the denture cream contained zinc, a compound which can interfere with copper absorption. While zinc levels in denture creams are not toxic by itself, it was the quantity of exposure that made the man so sick. Reportedly, the man had been using between two to four tubes of cream every week for the past 15 years. Doctors believe that level of exposure was what led to the decline in his nerve cells.

In addition to stopping the use of denture cream, the man was promptly treated with copper supplements. He reported that some symptoms, such as numbness and pain, have reduced with treatment. However, the man remains wheelchair-bound, as some of the nerve damage may have been irreversible.

The case report is a reminder of how seemingly benign products can cause major medical problems. “Clinicians should be mindful of risk factors for copper deficiency, for example, potential malabsorption or routine use of zinc-containing products. Prompt recognition and treatment of copper deficiency myelopathy prevents progressive and likely irreversible neurological dysfunction,” the authors concluded.

Additional source: Live Science

About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
APR 13, 2021
Cardiology
Can a Ketosis Metabolite Act as a Biomarker for Cardiovascular Diseases?
APR 13, 2021
Can a Ketosis Metabolite Act as a Biomarker for Cardiovascular Diseases?
Quick and reliable diagnostics are the key to controlling many diseases, including cardiovascular disease. Biomarkers ar ...
MAY 18, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
Library Prep Methods for SARS-CoV-2 Sequencing: a Summary
MAY 18, 2021
Library Prep Methods for SARS-CoV-2 Sequencing: a Summary
As the SARS-CoV-2 virus continues to mutate, rapid sequencing of COVID-19-positive samples is more critical than ever. N ...
JUN 08, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
Primers and Probes to Assay for SARS-CoV-2 Variants in Research Samples
JUN 08, 2021
Primers and Probes to Assay for SARS-CoV-2 Variants in Research Samples
Today, many scientists are investigating SARS-CoV-2 variants in their research projects. In order to facilitate screenin ...
JUN 02, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
A Genetic Form of ALS is Discovered
JUN 02, 2021
A Genetic Form of ALS is Discovered
Some medical mysteries have become much easier to solve because of advanced genetic techniques that have enabled researc ...
JUN 15, 2021
Cardiology
A Common Thread Among 20% of Sudden Cardiac Deaths
JUN 15, 2021
A Common Thread Among 20% of Sudden Cardiac Deaths
It's estimated that 450,000 Americans die from sudden heart conditions, and in about one in ten cases, the cause is unex ...
SEP 14, 2021
Clinical & Molecular DX
HIV Self-Test App Proves Promising
SEP 14, 2021
HIV Self-Test App Proves Promising
A new app allows users to self-test for HIV, which has proven to help positive patients get access to medical care and c ...
Loading Comments...