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Do zinc lozenges shorten common colds?

Since 1984, researchers have debated whether zinc helps people to fight off colds. In that time, five studies have found that it helps, while five others established no such benefit.

A report in the Aug. 15 Annals of Internal Medicine now tilts the balance in favor of zinc, finding that lozenges taken every few hours at the start of a cold slash its average duration nearly in half.

Researchers gave 25 people zinc acetate dihydrate lozenges within 24 hours of the onset of a cold; 23 others received an inert substitute. Both lozenges tasted of peppermint. Neither researchers nor participants were told who was receiving zinc until afterward. Participants took a lozenge every 2 to 3 hours for 4 or 5 days.

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