New Look at Chelation Therapy

James Hamblin

“For me,this is the big one.” Gervasio Lamas, the chief of Columbia University’s cardiology division at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, took out his phone and tapped the battery. “Cadmium. This thing ends up in the dump in West Palm Beach, and then I end up drinking it.”

Having recently finished a $31 million study of chelation therapy—a study that unexpectedly, divisively suggested that using chelation to rid the body of metals could prolong some lives—Lamas has joined a growing battalion of physicians concerned about the health effects of heavy metals.

Chelation has for some time occupied a crucial niche in mainstream medicine. The therapy, which commonly involves an intravenous infusion of ethylene diamine tetraacetic acid (EDTA), was approved by the FDA in 1953 to treat lead poisoning. Today, if you find yourself uncharacteristically bellicose after eating some antique paint, any credible doctor will recommend chelation. EDTA will form an ionic bond with the lead in your blood, flushing it through your kidneys and into your urine. You will begin to cast metal forth with haste and ardor, and you will be well. But Lamas was not interested in using chelation to prevent lead-induced psychosis. He was interested, as so many cardiologists are, in heart disease.

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