University of Southern Denmark (SDU) researchers have published a study asserting that nanosilver, used in dietary supplements, cosmetics and food packaging, can penetrate human cells and cause damage. thiago Verano-Braga, et al., “insights into the Cellular response triggered by silver nanoparticles using Quantitative proteomics,” ACS Nano, February 10, 2014. noted for its antibacterial effect, silver in nanoparticle form is often used as a coating in the food and cosmetics industries. When used as a metal, silver does not pose any danger, the researchers said, “but when you break it down to nano-sizes, the particles become small enough to penetrate a cell wall. if nano-silver enters a human cell, it can cause changes in the cell.”

“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 [and] this worries us,” said the scientists, noting that cancer and neurological diseases such as alzheimer’s and parkinson’s are characterized by an overproduction of free radicals.

The authors emphasized that their research was conducted on human cells in a laboratory setting, noting that they do not know the amount of human exposure required for the emergence of cellular changes. “We don’t know how much is needed, so we cannot conclude that nano-silver can make you sick. But we can say that we must be very cautious and worried when we see an overproduction of free radicals in human cells.”

Nanosilver is also sold as a dietary supplement that claims to have an antibacterial, anti-flu and cancer-preventing effect. in the wake of the sDu research, the Danish Veterinary and Food administration has warned against taking dietary supplements containing nanosilver. See University of Southern Denmark News Release, February 27, 2014.