International Copper Association Reports High Copper Levels in the Blood Do Not Equal High Copper Levels in the Body

    NEW YORK, October 24 /CNW/ - When the amount of a metal in the blood
rises, this usually is equal to a rise of that metal in the body. The blood
level of lead, for example, is a precise indicator of whether or not a person
may be at risk of suffering from lead-toxicity. This relationship is used to
predict toxic effects from many metals, including copper. However, copper is
unique in that, unlike most metals, high levels of copper in blood are
completely independent of the copper level in the body, a recent review in the
British Journal of Nutrition(*) shows. "Elevated blood copper tells us nothing
about whether or not a person may be at risk of toxicity from high copper in
the body," said Harry McArdle, Professor of Nutritional Sciences at the Rowett
Research Institute in Aberdeen, Scotland. "This is an extremely rare
condition, but potentially serious. We have been struggling to find an
early-warning blood marker of copper toxicity for decades."

    By incorrectly assuming that blood copper reveals the body content of
copper, copper often has been implicated in pathologic conditions ranging from
Alzheimer's disease to premature death from heart disease. It is important for
physicians and public health professionals to realize that blood levels of
copper are independent of the level of copper in the body. Instead, copper in
the blood is a good indicator of an active immune-defense. For example, during
a flu or cold, your copper blood levels will triple, although - on the whole -
you have no more and no less copper in the body. The correlation of elevated
blood copper with elevated risk for disease is scientifically flawed, and
results based on such a correlation need to be reconsidered.

    Major research efforts are currently underway to identify a good blood
biomarker for copper. Only when one or more biomarkers are available can
copper status be monitored and studied in certain disease conditions. Until
then, caution is advised in the interpretation of studies on copper status and
risk for disease.

    Copper is an essential nutrient for humans, and needed for wide range of
biological processes. The list of copper's activities is long: we need it for
cellular energy production, skin and connective tissue stability, bone growth
and strength, the brain and nervous system, as well as the control of free
radicals that cause cellular damage. Copper also plays a role in fetal and
infant development, and a healthy immune system. Like many other essential
elements of the body, too much copper can be harmful, although toxicity from
too much copper is extremely rare.

    The International Copper Association (ICA) is the leading organization
for promoting and defending the use of copper globally, inspiring the world
about copper's essentiality for health, technology, and the quality of life.
Headquartered in New York, ICA develops programs and initiatives through
regional offices in Brussels, Santiago, Singapore, and New York, and through
31 copper promotion centers on six continents.

    (*)R. Danzeisen, M. Araya, et al.: How reliable and robust are current
biomarkers for copper status? British Journal of Nutrition (2007) 98, 676-683

For further information:

For further information: International Copper Association Media: Steve
Kukoda, 212-251-7248

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