More dangerous chemicals in everyday life: Now experts warn against nanosilver

Endocrine disrupters are not the only worrying chemicals that ordinary consumers are exposed to in everyday life. Also nanoparticles of silver, found in e.g. dietary supplements, cosmetics and food packaging, now worry scientists. A new study from the University of Southern Denmark shows that nano-silver can penetrate our cells and cause damage.

Silver has an antibacterial effect and therefore the food and cosmetic industry often coat their products with . Nano-silver can be found in e.g. drinking bottles, cosmetics, band aids, toothbrushes, running socks, refrigerators, washing machines and food packagings.

"Silver as a metal does not pose any danger, but when you break it down to nano-sizes, the particles become small enough to penetrate a cell wall. If nano-silver enters a human cell, it can cause changes in the cell", explain Associate Professor Frank Kjeldsen and PhD Thiago Verano-Braga, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Southern Denmark.

Together with their research colleagues they have just published the results of a study of such cell damages in the journal ACS Nano.

The researchers examined human intestinal cells, as they consider these to be most likely to come into contact with nano-silver, ingested with food.

"We can confirm that nano-silver leads to the formation of harmful, so called in cells. We can also see that there are changes in the form and amount of proteins. This worries us", say Frank Kjeldsen and Thiago Verano-Braga.

A large number of serious diseases are characterized by the fact that there is an overproduction of free radicals in cells. This applies to cancer and neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

Kjeldsen and Verano-Braga emphasizes that their research is conducted on human cells in a laboratory, not based on living people. They also point out that they do not know how large a dose of nano-silver, a person must be exposed to for the emergence of cellular changes.

"We don't know how much is needed, so we cannot conclude that nano-silver can make you sick. But we can say that we must be very cautious and worried when we see an overproduction of free radicals in ", they say.

Nano-silver is also sold as a , promising to have an antibacterial, anti-flu and cancer-inhibatory effect. The nano-silver should also help against low blood counts and bad skin. In the EU, the marketing of dietary supplements and foods with claims to have medical effects is not allowed. But the nano-silver is easy to find and buy online.

In the wake of the Uiversity of Southern Denmark-research, the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration now warns against taking dietary supplements with nano-silver.

"The recent research strongly suggests that it can be dangerous", says Søren Langkilde from the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration to the Danish Broadcasting Corporation (DR).

Explore further

Ecotoxicity: All clear for silver nanoparticles?

More information: ACS NANO.DOI: 10.1021/nn4050744
Journal information: ACS Nano

Citation: More dangerous chemicals in everyday life: Now experts warn against nanosilver (2014, February 27) retrieved 17 September 2019 from
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Feb 27, 2014
Don't overlook the irreversible condition argyria, wherein the skin acquires an indelible grey cast from the long-term consumption of nanosilver particles.

Feb 27, 2014
Anyone ingesting silver hoping for a magical cure certainly deserves what s/he gets, at least. The amount of incedental (colloidal) silver you're going to ingest in a lifetime is an insignificant risk. Given the fact that silver has been used for centuries as folk medicine, the people who need this kind of mumbo-jumbo are probably better wasting their money on nanosilver than many alternative magical foo-foo dusts. Life is risky. So risky that no one is known to survive it.

Feb 28, 2014
I don't suggest ingesting it. however, wearing a silver ring won't hurt you. May even be marginally beneficial.

Mar 01, 2014
For Z99 who writes "silver has been used for centuries as folk medicine" I recall that besides silver, mercury has been used for centuries as folk medicine, quite more, killing people without understanding the origin of their death !!
The point is that nano silver and also other nano products, are quite more dangerous, because like for asbestos, they penetrate inside the cells and disturb completely theses cells on the long time.
On long term, several generations, new products are never tested, because generally it is impossible to know the origin of illness like cancer, cardiac death, diabete, obesity, and thus impossible to prosecute the producer.
The tests are limited to 3 months on mouses, and for genetic modified food, rare studies on long terms are under strong denial by scientits under control of powerful lobbies, writing that 10 mouses are too small numbers, but never saying that 3 months are too short to allow !!
Asbestos is an exception after nearly a century of denial.

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