Few Aware That Zinc in Denture Creams Pose Health RiskJun 28, 2010 | Parker Waichman LLP
Scores of denture wearers who have suffered unexplained neurological injuries are now only beginning to realize that zinc-containing denture creams could be to blame for their ailments. Excessive exposure to zinc, which is used as a bonding agent and odor blocker in Procter & Gamble’s Fixodent, and until recently, GlaxoSmithKline’s Super Poligrip line, can cause copper depletion and eventually nerve damage.
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 not only irreversible nerve damage, but to disability, as well. 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 excessive exposure to zinc in denture cream to “profound neurologic disease” in the patients reviewed.
In October 2009, the journal “NeuroToxicology” published an article on 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 Fixodent or another zinc-containing denture cream. Blood test confirmed that each suffered from zinc poisoning and copper deficiency. he authors of the “NeuroToxicology” article concluded that: “It appears the (11 patients’) disease is fully explained by denture cream use.”
Scores of people have sued Glaxo and Procter & Gamble, claiming their neurological injuries were the result of zinc in Fixodent and Super Poligrip. Last year, denture cream lawsuits pending in federal courts were consolidated in a multidistrict litigation in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Miami Division (MDL No. 2051). The first trials in that litigation could start in early 2011.
Procter & Gamble took steps in March to inform users that excessive exposure to zinc in Fixodent could pose health risks. Without much fanfare, the company placed new information on its Web site, www.dentureliving.com, stating that some reports suggest that excessive and prolonged zinc intake may be linked to adverse health effects. Procter & Gamble also began shipping Fixodent with updated label instructions on how to apply the product.
The month prior, Glaxo went even further, and made the decision to stop the manufacture, distribution and advertising of three versions of Super Poligrip that contained zinc. Glaxo said that the denture creams would be reformulated without zinc. The company’s statement read in part:
“We are taking these actions because we have become aware of potential health problems associated with the long-term excessive use of our zinc-containing denture adhesive products.”
Still, many denture cream users are unaware of this risk. And so are a lot of their doctors.
“A lot of my clients were complaining of symptoms and go to their doctors, and the doctors will simply ignore them; they are unaware of the zinc poisoning issues.” Andy a partner with the law firm of Parker Waichman LLP, and a Co-Lead Counsel to the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee in the denture cream litigation, recently told Dallas’ News 8. “They are unaware that these products even contain zinc.”