26-Year-Old Woman Said to be Denture Cream Poisoning Victim

Denture cream zinc poisoning is often thought to be a disease suffered by the elderly. But that’s not always the case. Anyone who has used denture adhesives like PoliGrip or Fixodent over a long period of time can be sickened by the zinc in these products.

The human body does need zinc – but only in small amounts. Studies show that consuming at least 50 milligrams of zinc a day for a few months could lead to copper deficiency, which can cause anemia, bone loss, nerve damage and other problems. Ingesting 80 or 100 milligrams or more for months or even years can lead to irreversible damage.

Compelling evidence exists that long-term exposure to the zinc in denture cream can lead to nerve damage and disability. In August 2008, the peer reviewed journal “Neurology” reported on four patients suffering from neuropathy and other neurological symptoms typical of zinc poisoning and copper depletion. The article specifically linked excess zinc in denture cream to “profound neurologic disease” in the patients reviewed.

This past fall, researchers at Vanderbilt University and the University of Michigan published a study in NeuroToxicology that detailed 11 patients who had suffered from significant injuries and neurological disorders for a period of years. The study authors discovered that all 11 patients had used a zinc-containing denture cream, such as Fixodent or Super PoliGrip, to keep their dentures in place. Blood test confirmed that each suffered from zinc poisoning and copper deficiency.

After the 11 patients stopped using denture creams, their zinc and copper levels normalized. This led the study authors to conclude that: “Inappropriate use of denture cream appears to be the sole source of excessive zinc in these patient.” Sadly, even after they stopped using denture cream, the neurological condition of the 11 patients did not improve, and was seemingly irreversible.

Anyone – young or old – who has used zinc-containing denture creams over a long period time is at risk. Recently Time magazine detailed the case of a young woman who may now be permanently handicapped because of long-term exposure to zinc in denture cream. The story of Elizabeth Gilley is pretty harrowing. At 26, Gilley was suffering from unexplained symptoms such as numbness in her feet and legs and labored breathing. One day, Gilley had to be rushed to the hospital after she collapsed.

According to Time, Gilley was at first diagnosed with leukemia, but blood tests for that disease were negative. Finally, a year after she first sought help for her problems, Gilley was diagnosed with denture cream zinc poisoning.

Gilley wore dentures from a young age because a genetic condition had ruined her teeth. She had used a denture cream made with zinc every day to hold her dentures in place.

According to Time, Gilley can no longer walk and relies on a wheelchair. She is among the scores of people who have filed lawsuits alleging zinc poisoning from products like Poligrip and Fixodent. Denture cream lawsuits claim that the manufacturers of these products failed to warn about their risks and failed to provide adequate warnings about the zinc in their products, or adequate instructions to prevent deviation from accepted use.

Last fall, the many denture cream lawsuits pending in federal courts were consolidated for centralized and coordinated pre-trial proceedings in the Denture Cream Products Liability Litigation in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Miami Division, before the Honorable Judge Cecilia Altonaga (MDL No. 2051).

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