Zinc For Colds...Jury Still Out!

Zinc has been shown, in preliminary studies, to inhibit the reproduction of viruses and possibly promote the production of the virus-fighter interferon.

To determine the effectiveness of zinc lozenges as treatment for the common cold, Sherif B. Mossad, M.D. and colleagues studied 100 adult patients at the Cleveland Clinic. The results of this study were published two years ago and reviewed by MedicineNet's NEWS team in an article published July 26, 1996 (see MedicineNet Doctors' Views Archives).

The results of this initial Cleveland Clinic study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine (1996;125:81- 88), showed a significantly shorter duration of symptoms (4.4 days vs. 7.6 days) in patients taking the zinc lozenges compared to those who were given placebo.

At the time, MedicineNet's editors commented that these promising results needed to be confirmed by additional studies before we could recommend to patients with the common cold that they take zinc. Nevertheless, sales of over-the-counter zinc products, particularly zinc lozenges, skyrocketed during the past two years.

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