The 1973 work by Dr. L.M. Klevay at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Human Nutrition Research Centre pointed to a relationship between copper and cholesterol. In subsequent work, published in 1975, Dr. Klevay theorised that a metabolic imbalance between zinc and copper -- with more emphasis on copper deficiency than zinc excess - is a major contributing factor in coronary heart disease.
Subsequent work by other investigators has shown that copper complexes also can have a valuable role in the minimisation of damage to the aorta and heart muscle as oxygenated blood reperfuses into tissues following myocardial infarction. This action is based on the anti-inflammatory action of copper complexes.
It has been speculated that the reason that the heart attack rate in France is lower than in the rest of Europe is because of the significant consumption by the French of red wine, which has a higher copper content than white wine because it is prepared with the skin of the grape intact.
Copper's role in the immune system has recently been supported by observations that individuals suffering from Menke's disease (an inherited disease in which there is defective copper absorption and metabolism) generally die of immune system-related phenomena and other infections. Further, animals deficient in copper have been shown to have increased susceptibility to bacterial pathogens such as salmonella and listeria. This kind of evidence has led researchers to suggest that copper compounds not only can cure various conditions, but can aid in the prevention of disease.
Copper jewellery worn directly on skin has been used for a hundred years or more as a remedy for many ailments, including arthritis. Now, copper bracelets to ease joint and arthritis pain are ubiquitous in health food stores, and health magazines and catalogues.
With the understanding that copper deficiency can result in grey hair, skin wrinkles, crow's feet, varicose veins and saggy skin, copper has recently been touted as a "Fountain of Youth" for its ability to improve the elastic fibre in skin, increase skin flexibility, and act as an anti-wrinkle treatment. It has even been said to be able to return grey hair back to its natural colour.
As modern researches continue to investigate the role of copper in the functioning of the human body, the efficacy of copper as a trace element critical to human health and wellness is slowly but surely being rediscovered, since the incredible healing properties of copper have been understood and used throughout human history.