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Copper Anti-microbial Clothing & Fabrics

We can’t believe everything we hear and see?  However, sometimes things we don’t believe can actually be true.

In regard to copper used in clothing & textiles, some of what we hear is true and some may be false.  Copper has been used in fabrics and clothing for several reasons.  Some of the reasons have science supporting the claims and other aspects are still in question.

Anti-microbial properties of copper have been reported to help with the elimination of bacteria.  The concept being that reducing bacteria will help combat fabric odor caused by body odor, etc.  As per our understanding from what we have read, this aspect of copper has truth illustrated by science.

Are the claims about copper infused clothing true?

There is an article on the Science Around Michigan website that discusses this subject.  They took a look at the claimed benefits of infused copper which is essentially that it has anti-microbial properties which can help prevent odor.  The anti-microbial properties are well known and studied.  The following was quoted in the article, “Bacteria, yeasts, and viruses are rapidly killed on metallic copper surfaces, and the term “contact killing" has been coined for this process.  While the phenomenon was already known in ancient times, it is currently receiving renewed attention.  This is due to the potential use of copper as an antibacterial material in health care settings. Contact killing was observed to take place at a rate of at least 7 to 8 logs per hour, and no live microorganisms were generally recovered from copper surfaces after prolonged incubation.  The antimicrobial activity of copper and copper alloys is now well established, and copper has recently been registered at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as the first solid antimicrobial material. In several clinical studies, copper has been evaluated for use on touch surfaces, such as door handles, bathroom fixtures, or bed rails, in attempts to curb nosocomial infections."

Visit the Science Around Michigan website to learn more about what science says about copper compression clothes.

Copper is a chemical element with symbol Cu (from Latin: cuprum) and atomic number 29.  It is a ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. Pure copper is soft and malleable; a freshly exposed surface has a reddish-orange color.  It is used as a conductor of heat and electricity, a building material, and a constituent of various metal alloys (and apparently used in some textiles for apparel and fashion accessories)

Back in December 2006, Cupron Inc., owner Jeffrey Gabbay says it is the first textile manufacturer to produce fibers “impregnated" with copper oxide, an agent that kills bacteria and odor on contact.  The socks, which he says can heal and prevent athlete’s foot, are one of his company’s best-selling products.   Gabbay, who has a background in textile engineering and biochemistry, believed that textiles containing tiny copper particles can heal diabetic ulcers, prevent the spread of diseases in hospitals, and cure a host of other ailments.  You can read the full article about the company that claims copper clothes heal.

According to the Copper Clothing Ltd. website in the UK, “Copper in small amounts is actually a nutrient.  Copper assists in the formation of haemoglobin and red blood cells, it's involved in forming pigments in your body's natural hair colour.  Copper is also involved in enzymes for digestion, protein metabolism and in healing processes necessary for proper bone formation and maintenance, it's also necessary for the RNA (Ribonucleic acid) in all of your cells.  Without copper your body can't make new cells.  It is also involved in the formation of elastin, the healthy, youthful skin and chief component of the elastic muscle fibres throughout the body.  Trace amounts of copper are absorbed from the fabric via the skin and is readily utilized and metabolized by your body".

Some compression clothing has been sold with copper woven into it, with the same folk medicine claims being made.  While compression clothing is a real treatment for some ailments, therefore the clothing may appear to work, the added copper may very well have no benefit beyond a placebo effect (however, we are not certain)

Some apparel & jewelry suppliers indicate copper helps with the release of positive ions promotes health and wellness.  That is a fairly broad claim that is challenging to study or prove.

Other companies have claimed that copper-infused fabric improves skin elasticity, reduce age spots, and give your skin a healthy glow.  Again, we are not sure if this has been proven by science.

Copper is commonly used in jewelry, and folklore says that copper bracelets relieve arthritis symptoms.  In alternative medicine, some proponents speculate that excess copper absorbed through the skin can treat some ailments, or that the copper somehow creates a magnetic field, treating nearby tissue.  In various studies, though, no difference is found between arthritis treated with a copper bracelet, magnetic bracelet, or placebo bracelet.   As far as medical science is concerned, wearing copper has no known benefit, for any medical condition at all. A human being can have a dietary copper deficiency, but this is very rare, because copper is present in many common foods, including legumes (beans), grains, and nuts.

Note: Apparel Search does NOT know if copper has any special or healing powers.  You should do your own research and come to your own conclusions.

You may want to also learn about compression clothing and silver anti-microbial fabrics.

Learn more about copper statistics and information from the USGS.

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