Dubious mercury poisoning results

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 43 , No. 6 , July August 2001 , Pages 320-321 Letters

I would like to warn other physicians in the province who have had distressed patients presenting to their offices clutching lab results that suggest mercury poisoning or other heavy metal poisoning.


I would like to warn other physicians in the province who have had distressed patients presenting to their offices clutching lab results that suggest mercury poisoning or other heavy metal poisoning. These tests will have been ordered by a naturopath or physician interested in chelation. The patient will typically bring in urine testing results performed by a laboratory in Chicago where the mercury levels are right off the scale provided in the lab report.

 

Often these patients are vulnerable individuals who have been looking for a diagnosis to explain their non-specific symptoms. The finding may lead to expensive chelation therapy or unnecessary removal of mercury fillings.

Usually the patient had been given a chelating agent prior to providing the sample, which can raise heavy metal levels 20 to 30 levels above baseline. Even so, the lab results do not show levels that would be alarming if the testing had been reported by a conventional lab.

As a physician with an interest in occupational medicine, I have now been referred five such patients who are naturally most distressed when they present to my office believing they have been poisoned either by their mercury fillings or by environmental exposures. For more discussion regarding this kind of testing, I recommend www.quackwatch.com. Your patients may also benefit from visiting this site.

—John Sehmer, MD 
Vancouver

John Sehmer, MD. Dubious mercury poisoning results. BCMJ, Vol. 43, No. 6, July, August, 2001, Page(s) 320-321 - Letters.



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