-- HealthDay Staff
TUESDAY, Feb. 15 (HealthDay News) -- A review of data from 15
trials suggests that the zinc supplements so many Americans pop at
the first sign of a cold may, in fact, cut the length and severity
The review, conducted by a team in India and published in the
Cochrane Library, found that zinc might help shorten the time people have to stay away from work or school.
"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 in Chandigarh, India, said in a news release issued by the journal. "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."
Despite the popularity of zinc supplements, controversy over
their effectiveness has raged since a much-publicized 1984 study
first suggested a cold-limiting effect. Since then, the data has
In the new analysis, Singh's team looked over data on more than
1,360 people. They found that zinc -- taken as syrup, lozenges or
tablets within 24 hours of symptom onset -- did reduce the duration
and severity of illness. And by a week after onset, more people who
took zinc said their cold had resolved vs. those who had not, the
Children who took the syrup or the lozenges for five months or
more also experienced fewer colds and missed fewer school days, the
analysis found. They also needed fewer antibiotics.
"Our review only looked at zinc supplementation in healthy people," Singh stressed. "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."
Find out more about the common cold at the
U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious
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