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Zinc/Copper Supplements May Not Curb Diarrhea: Study

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Even thought they're widely used, zinc and copper supplements may not be an effective way to treat diarrhea, suggest Indian researchers who studied 808 children.

The zinc and copper supplements were no more effective at treating diarrhea in the children than a placebo pill, found the team from the Lata Medical Research Foundation, BBC News reported.

"The expected beneficial effects of zinc supplementation for acute diarrhea were not observed," said lead researcher Dr. Archana Patel. "Therapeutic zinc or zinc and copper supplementation may not have a universal beneficial impact on the duration of acute diarrhea in children."

The findings of this study, published in the journal BMC Medicine, shouldn't discourage the use of these supplements, said Dr. Olivier Fontaine, a diarrhea expert at the World Health Organization.

"Evidence on the efficacy of zinc in the management of diarrhea comes from the results of many clinical trials conducted in hospitals and communities throughout the world over the last 15 to 20 years," Fontaine said, BBC News reported. "Therefore one single negative study cannot dismiss these accumulated evidences that were well reviewed in a couple of meta-analyses."

Diarrhea causes about 4 percent of deaths worldwide.

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