Maurie Markman, MD
The decades-long argument over whether zinc lozenges can shorten the duration of the common cold is far removed from the arena of cancer medicine, yet the studies conducted to settle the debate help illustrate the shortcomings of the clinical trial model that has dominated the oncology sphere. The impact of zinc lozenges on people with colds has been highly controversial since the 1980s, with results from randomized studies both supporting and refuting the benefits of this rather simple, relatively inexpensive, and essentially nontoxic strategy. A recent meta-analysis examined individual patient data from 3 randomized, placebo-controlled trials that evaluated the effects of 80 to 92 mg/day of elemental zinc and concluded that use of the active agent resulted in a faster recovery.1
Seventy percent of the zinctreated patients recovered by day 5 compared with 27% of individuals who received placebo.1
And no serious adverse effects were observed.
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