Nanosilver, found in certain cosmetics and other consumer goods, can penetrate the skin and cause damage, according to a scientific research project carried out in Denmark.
Silver is known to have anti-bacterial properties, which is why cosmetic and food packaging manufacturers are known to coat products in nanosilver as a means of extending the shelf life and enhancing product integrity.
As well as food and cosmetics, nanosilver is also used in other consumer goods, including band aids, toothbrushes, and products as diverse as running socks and refrigerators.
Silver is not the danger, but nanosilover could be
"Silver as a metal does not pose any danger, but when you break it down to nano-sizes, the particles become small enough to penetrate a cell wall. If nanosilver enters a human cell, it can cause changes in the cell", explain associate professor Frank Kjeldsen and PhD Thiago Verano-Braga, of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Southern Denmark.
The research, which was published in the journal ACS Nano, focused on examining human intestinal cells, to discover what the effect on the body is once nanosilver is ingested.
"We can confirm that nano-silver leads to the formation of harmful, so called free radicals in cells. We can also see that there are changes in the form and amount of proteins. This worries us", say Frank Kjeldsen and Thiago Verano-Braga.
Nanosilver can lead to formation of free radicals and problems
The researchers highlight that the formation of a large number of free radicals in the body has been linked to serious diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
However, the research is still at an early stage, and it has not shown how topical application of nanosilver might be absorbed by the dermis.
Likewise, the scientists also point out that the research was carried out on human cells in a laboratory and not on living people, which means they are not sure how a person might react to different levels of exposure to nanosilver.
In the light of the research, the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration has warned that supplements containing nanosilver, often marketed for anti-bacterial, anti-flu and cancer-fighting effects, should not be taken.