Dr. Fuhrman on Copper

Last week new research came out linking copper to the treatment of cardiovascular disease. Dr. Fuhrman knows a thing or two about dietary copper. Here’s what he had to say:

I thought I would mention that I do NOT have copper in my Gentle Care Formula and do not recommend people take copper. Copper (rich in animal products) is sometimes considered a marker for a high-protein diet. Higher intake of copper is linked to increased cancer and overall mortality and increased risk of Alzheimer’s dementia. The absence of copper (and beta carotene, iron and Vitamin A) is a key feature that makes my multi unique.

So I guess my suggestion not to eat a steaming plate of pennies was a good idea—kudos to me. Dr. Fuhrman also emailed me some studies that help crystallize his position on copper, take a look:

Zinc, copper, and magnesium and risks for all-cause, cancer, and cardiovascular mortality.
Epidemiology. 2006; 17(3):308-14 (ISSN: 1044-3983)

Leone N ; Courbon D ; Ducimetiere P ; Zureik M
Unit 744 National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM), Lille Pasteur Institute, Lille, France.

BACKGROUND: Experimental data suggest that zinc, copper, and magnesium are involved in carcinogenesis and atherogenesis. Few longitudinal studies have related these minerals to cancer or cardiovascular disease mortality in a population. METHODS: Data from the Paris Prospective Study 2, a cohort of 4035 men age 30-60 years at baseline, were used to assess the association between serum zinc, copper, and magnesium and all-cause, cancer, and cardiovascular disease mortality. Serum mineral values measured at baseline were divided into quartiles and classified into low (1st quartile, referent group), medium (2nd-3rd quartiles), and high (4th quartile) values. During 18-year follow up, 339 deaths occurred, 176 as a result of cancer and 56 of cardiovascular origin. Relative risks (RRs) for each element were inferred using Cox's proportional hazard model after controlling for various potential confounders. RESULTS: High copper values (4th quartile) were associated with a 50% increase in RRs for all-cause deaths (RR = 1.5; 95% confidence interval = 1.1-2.1), a 40% increase for cancer mortality (1.4; 0.9-2.2), and a 30% increase for cardiovascular mortality (1.3; 0.6-2.8) compared with low values (1st quartile). High magnesium values were negatively related to mortality with a 40% decrease in RR for all-cause (0.6; 0.4-0.8) and cardiovascular deaths (0.6; 0.2-1.2) and by 50% for cancer deaths (0.5; 0.3-0.8). Additionally, subjects with a combination of low zinc and high copper values had synergistically increased all-cause (2.6; 1.4-5.0) and cancer (2.7; 1.0-7.3) mortality risks. Similarly, combined low zinc and high magnesium values were associated with decreased all-cause (0.2; 0.1-0.5) and cancer (0.2; 0.1-0.8) mortality risks.

CONCLUSIONS: High serum copper, low serum magnesium, and concomitance of low serum zinc with high serum copper or low serum magnesium contribute to an increased mortality risk in middle-aged men.

High dietary iron and copper and risk of colorectal cancer: a case-control study in Burgundy, France.
Nutr Cancer. 2004; 49(1):66-71 (ISSN: 0163-5581)

Senesse P ; Meance S ; Cottet V ; Faivre J ; Boutron-Ruault MC
Registre Bourguignon des Cancers Digestifs, Faculta de Madecine, Dijon cedex, France.

Several hypotheses have been proposed for colorectal carcinogenesis, including formation of free radicals. A case-control study compared nutrient intake in 171 colorectal cancer cases versus 309 general population controls, using a detailed face-to-face food history questionnaire. A food composition table enabled us to determine the mean composition of the diet in macro- and micronutrients. Dietary intakes were separately categorized into quartiles by gender. Logistic regression models were adjusted for age, sex, energy, exercise, and body mass index. High energy, copper, iron, and vitamin E intakes were associated with an overall increased risk of colorectal cancer. The odds ratios associated with the fourth quartile of intake were 2.3 (95% confidence interval, 1.3-4.0), 2.4 (1.3-4.6), 2.2 (1.1-4.7), and 1.8 (1.0-3.4) for energy, copper, iron, and vitamin E, respectively. There were no significant associations with dietary fiber, folate, calcium, or antioxidant vitamins other than vitamin E. These findings regarding iron and copper suggest that free radicals play an important role in colorectal carcinogenesis, while the findings regarding vitamin E are so far unexplained

Trace elements and cognitive impairment: an elderly cohort study.
Arch Gerontol Geriatr Suppl. 2004; (9):393-402 (ISSN: 0924-7947)

Smorgon C ; Mari E ; Atti AR ; Dalla Nora E ; Zamboni PF ; Calzoni F ; Passaro A ; Fellin R Second Department of Internal Medicine, University of Ferrara, Via Savonarola, 9 - 44100 Ferrara, Italy.

Dementia is one of the most pressing public health problems with social and economic implication. The form called cognitive impairment non-dementia (CIND)represents a subclinical phase of dementia. Different studies have shown a possible effect of micro- and macro-nutrients on cognitive function. Trace elements, being involved in metabolic processes and redox reactions in the central nervous system (CNS), could influence the cognitive functions. This study evaluated the presence of an eventual correlation between serum trace element concentrations and cognitive function in a group of subjects with CIND and manifest dementia (Alzheimer dementia = AD, and vascular dementia = VaD), and compared them with a control group. Thirty -five patients were enrolled in this study. Each patient underwent a clinical and biochemical examination. We also performed a neuropsychological and functional assessment (the Milan overall dementia assessment = MODA, activities of daily living = ADL, and instrumental activities of daily living = IADL), and a computerized tomographic (CT) cerebral scan. Patients were than divided in 4 groups according to the obtained diagnosis (Controls, CIND, AD, VaD).The presence of any acute or chronic conditions, affecting cognitive functions, was considered as exclusion criteria. A blood sample was collected to determine iron (Fe), zinc (Zn), manganese (Mn), selenium (Se), cobalt (Co), chromium (Cr), copper (Cu),molybdenum (Mo) and aluminium (Al) serum concentrations (chromatographic,spectrophotometric methods). In our cohort we found a positive correlation between cognitive function, expressed as the MODA score, and Se, Cr, Co and Fe serum levels,while a negative correlation was observed between MODA score, Cu and Al serum levels.Moreover, some statistically significant differences in Se, Cr, Co, Cu and Al concentrations were found among the groups. According to these results, we may suppose that Se, Cr and Co protect cognitive function, Cu influences the evolution of cognitive impairment, while Al contributes to the pathogenesis of AD.
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