February 16, 2011

Study Touts Cold-Fighting Effectiveness Of Zinc

Taking zinc could be an effective tool in reducing the severity and duration of illnesses such as the common cold, according to a new study published in the health care journal The Cochrane Library this week.

According to a Wednesday article by the Guardian, researchers from the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in Chandigarh, India "analyzed data from 15 trials involving 1,360 participants. They concluded that taking zinc syrup, lozenges or tablets within a day of the onset of cold symptoms had a remedial effect."

The effectiveness of zinc against the common cold has been the topic of previous studies in 1984 and 1999, according to a press release by The Cochrane Library publishers Wiley-Blackwell. The former showed that zinc lozenges could reduce the amount of time that symptoms lasted, while the latter provided results that were updated by this latest study.

"At seven days, more of the patients who took zinc had cleared their symptoms compared to those who took placebos," the press release claimed. "Children who took zinc syrup or lozenges for five months or longer caught fewer colds and took less time off school. Zinc also reduced antibiotic use in children, which is important because overuse has implications for antibiotic resistance."

"This review strengthens the evidence for zinc as a treatment for the common cold," lead researcher Meenu Singh of the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research said in a statement. "However, at the moment, it is still difficult to make a general recommendation, because we do not know very much about the optimum dose, formulation or length of treatment."

The researchers suggest that future investigations into the matter should focus specifically on the benefits of zinc in specific groups or populations, including in low-income nations.

"Our review only looked at zinc supplementation in healthy people," Singh added. "But it would be interesting to find out whether zinc supplementation could help asthmatics, whose asthma symptoms tend to get worse when they catch a cold."


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