Chelation Therapy Still Questionable


Long considered a quack therapy by doctors, chelation has been given a new life by a recent study sponsored by the NIH.

Invented in the 1950s, chelation involves injecting patients with a substance, usually calcium, which binds to heavy metals in the blood. Supposedly, the body then excretes these metals and is purged. Originally created as a way to treat lead poisoning, it instead became a popular way to address all sorts of diseases, though there were no studies that showed it to actually be effective.

But new research indicates that chelation may actually help heart patients.

If you had asked any cardiologist, to a man or to a woman, they would have said this study would be negative, and that included me and my associates. —Dr. Gervasio A. Lamas

The end result? Older heart attack patients who submitted to 40 chelation treatments over the course of 5 years had on average 18% fewer cardiovascular events. This was statistically significant, but just barely.

Critics however were quick to point out the numerous flaws in the study. There were fewer patients than intended (which would exagerate statistical irregularities), one in six of the participants left before the study was completed, and two of the clinics that gave these chelation treatments were suspended for safety violations. Finally, the doctor in charge of the chelation agents was indicted on Medicaid fraud in the middle of the study. None of which bodes well for the respectability fo the results.

So in the end, both sides of the chelation issue received more grist for their arguments. But even though this current flawed test can’t be completely trusted, neither can it be completely ignored.

All of which means that there will certainly be more studies to come.