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
NOV 03, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
"Hello? It's Me, the Coronavirus."
NOV 03, 2020
"Hello? It's Me, the Coronavirus."
Researchers at MIT have discovered an unlikely way of discerning those with COVID-19 from healthy individuals — si ...
NOV 10, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
No More False-Negatives: An Ultrasensitive COVID Test
NOV 10, 2020
No More False-Negatives: An Ultrasensitive COVID Test
A team of researchers has improved upon the current diagnostic methodology for COVID-19, making it significantly more ac ...
NOV 15, 2020
Neuroscience
Hearing Test Can Predict Autism in Newborns
NOV 15, 2020
Hearing Test Can Predict Autism in Newborns
For some time now, researchers have been aware that children and adults with autism tend to have different sensory syste ...
NOV 30, 2020
Cancer
Developing Handheld Pulse Lasers to Destroy Cancer Tissue
NOV 30, 2020
Developing Handheld Pulse Lasers to Destroy Cancer Tissue
Many take modern surgeons and surgical methods for granted. In the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t too long ago ...
JAN 08, 2021
Neuroscience
Can We Identify Alzheimer's from Routine Eye Exams?
JAN 08, 2021
Can We Identify Alzheimer's from Routine Eye Exams?
As people with diabetes age, they are more likely than those without the condition to develop cognitive disorders such a ...
MAR 02, 2021
Clinical & Molecular DX
Test Before You Travel: Tiny Smartphone Device Checks for COVID in 60 Minutes
MAR 02, 2021
Test Before You Travel: Tiny Smartphone Device Checks for COVID in 60 Minutes
According to the CDC’s latest travel regulations, all air passengers must have a negative COVID test before boardi ...
Loading Comments...