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August 31, 1918


JAMA. 1918;71(9):748. doi:10.1001/jama.1918.02600350052016

It is only in comparatively recent times that the possible part the intestine may play as a path of excretion has come to be clearly recognized and taken into account. The appreciation of the now undoubted fact of the excretory function of the bowel for certain substances has been due in largest measure, probably, to the studies on the behavior of iron. Thus it has been demonstrated that this element may actually be absorbed and used in the body, yet finally excreted with the feces. Indeed, little iron is ordinarily found in the urine, even when considerable quantities are introduced into the organism.

This story of the elimination of iron has already been duplicated for many of the heavy metals. The gastro-intestinal tract has been shown to be the main channel of excretion for lead, silver, nickel, mercury and bismuth, for example, the kidneys playing a very subordinate part. The