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November 10, 1978

An Element of Pleasure

JAMA. 1978;240(20):2189. doi:10.1001/jama.1978.03290200067030

Medicinal uses of zinc, which began centuries ago with the fumbling empiricism of local therapy for wounds and various skin lesions, is now entering an era of oral and parenteral therapy based on indications of specific deficiency in need of replenishment. Zinc has proved effective in acrodermatitis enteropathica of genetic origin1 as well as in the acquired variant associated with prolonged intravenous alimentation.2 Watery diarrhea and skin lesions characteristic of these zincdepleted states have responded well to replacement therapy as have the syndrome of growth retardation and hypogonadism reported from the Middle East3 and in similar malfunctions complicating sickle cell disease.4 Improvement with zinc has also been noted in refractory cases of celiac disease5 and in children with protein-energy malnutrition whose zinc-deficient state is associated with thymic atrophy and susceptibility to infection.6 True to its first love, the skin, zinc still maintains its precarious contact