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Germanium



Germanium 


Germanium has gained popularity in recent years for its reputed ability 
to improve immune system function in cancer patients. It is available in 
the U.S. as a nonprescription dietary supplement in oral capsules or 
tablets, and has also been encountered as an injectable solution. Earlier 
inorganic forms, notably the citrate-lactate salt, led to a number of 
cases of renal dysfunction, hepatic steatosis and peripheral neuropathy 
in individuals using it on a chronic basis. Plasma and urine germanium 
concentrations in these individuals, several of whom died, were 
several orders of magnitude greater than endogenous levels. The 
more recent organic form, beta-carboxyethylgermanium sesquioxide 
(propagermanium), has not exhibited the same spectrum of 
toxic effects.

Precautions

As early as 1922, doctors in the United States used the inorganic
form of germanium to treat patients with anemia.[73] It was used in 
other forms of treatments, but its efficiency has been dubious. Its 
role in cancer treatments has been debated.[74] U.S. Food and Drug 
Administration research has concluded that germanium, when used 
as a nutritional supplement, "presents potential human health hazard".

Germanium is not thought to be essential to the health of plants or
animals. Some of its compounds present a hazard to human health, 
however. For example, germanium chloride and germane (GeH4) are 
a liquid and gas, respectively, that can be very irritating to the eyes, 
skin, lungs, and throat.[75] Germanium has little or no impact on the 
environment because it usually occurs only as a trace element in ores 
and carbonaceous materials, and is used in very small quantities in 
commercial applications.



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