Metals in Medicine

Metal, believe it or not, is not purely used in building and construction. In this day and age, regular advancements in technology allows for extensive breakthroughs in modern medicine and medical procedures. Today, the use of metals in medicine is quite common in the treatment of illness, the rehabilitation of amputee patients through prosthetics, and in some cases, life saving technologies such as pacemakers. Further, people may or may not know that our bodies are already full of metals in the form of minerals vital to our health.

Metals in Medicine – Metals in us

The human body is composed of just about every natural element in nature. Some of these natural elements are classified as metals and help our bodies to operate every single day. Too little of these metals can lead to serious health concerns and may require supplementation through infusions or medication. Conversely, too much of these metals can also create some serious health problems.

Metals commonly found in the human body:

Calcium: Calcium is the element that gives us strong bones and teeth. It is also very important for growing nerve cells. Children are taught from an early age to drink milk because calcium gives you strong bones. Without it, bones can become quite brittle and prone to injuries.

Magnesium: Magnesium is another element important to bone structure. It is also excellent in reducing muscle cramps and spasms. Magnesium supplements are recommended to physically active people, to prevent muscle cramping.

Iron: Iron is found in haemoglobin and myoglobin and is responsible for transporting oxygen through the body. It is the property that gives blood it’s red colour, and is also essential for producing red blood cells. Deficiencies such as anemia are quite common, particularly amongst women. Anemia makes leads to excessive tiredness. Iron supplements are available from pharmacies, and transfusions can be sought from a doctor.

Metals in Medicine – Treatment of illness

For centuries, metals have been used as a medical treatment. Iron as a treatment for anemia was first documented in the 1500BC Ebers Papyrus. Metals are now being used to treat terminal illnesses such as cancer.

Platinum: Platinum has proven to specifically effect tumours located in the head and neck region.

Gold: Gold salt complexes have been proven to treat rheumatoid arthritis.

Silver: Silver is used to prevent infection in wounds

Zinc: Zinc is used to heal wounds

Metals in medicine are used every day, whether it be in treatment, diagnosis, the beds in hospitals, surgical equipment or medication, metal has a big influence on our medical systems. Metals are also recognised to be core components of life altering technologies such as pace makers and prosthetics. With further research and development, and the ever increasing capabilities of technology, who knows what metal might be able to do for medicine in the future?!

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