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PEBC: Theme of the Week: Metals for Treatment of Diseases

Metals are interesting elements which occur in nature. While some can cause toxicity, there are metals we can use to treat diseases. Here are some important metals which have therapeutic applications:

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1) Iron: iron is an important component of red blood cells to combine with hemoglobin and carry oxygen to the tissues. Iron is what gives the blood a dark red colour. While iron is useful for patients who have anemia resulting in fatigue, proper dosing is important to prevent iron overload.

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2) Lithium: used to treat bipolar disorder, this metal has powerful properties of stabilizing one’s mood and preventing suicide.

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3) Gold: Who knew that gold had some other valuable properties? Gold can be used to treat rheumatoid arthritis through an anti-inflammatory mechanism. These days, it is rarely used because we have better and safer options such as methotrexate.

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4) Bismuth: a common metal in Pepto Bismol to treat a variety of gastrointestinal symptoms including nausea, diarrhea and stomach issues.

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5) Lanthanum: marketed as Fosrenol, this metal is particularly useful as a phosphate binder for chronic kidney disease patients with elevated phosphate levels.





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