Olivia Simpson 5:01pm 09/26/13
The copper bracelets and magnetic wrist straps people have been using to alleviate the pain of arthritis have been declared useless by British researchers. In their randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study, the researchers randomized patients to receive four treatments. These were wearing a powerful magnetic strap, a weak magnetic strap, a nonmagnetic strap, and a copper bracelet. The patients wore the bracelets for 5 weeks and reported pain levels using a visual scale and recorded how often their joints felt tender and swollen. The researchers used questionnaires and tested for inflammation. They found no significant differences in any of the measures regardless of what the patients were wearing. As placebos, the bracelets have some benefits but, as treatments, they do no good.
This article is interesting because the research completely disproves the medical use of these bracelets. It brings about the question of whether we should allow patients that swear by these products to live in blissful ignorance or if we should provide them with the facts. On one hand, I think that the ethical thing to do is provide these patients with the facts. It would keep them from buying useless products but would put whatever corporation makes them out of business. If we let these arthritis patients believe that these bracelets are helping them, however, it could benefit their health via the placebo effect. Ultimately, the research was published so I guess the researchers asking this question decided to provide the public with the truth that these customary bracelets are not working.
-NY Times (Science Times) article by Nicholas Bakalar 09/24/13