COPPER MUGS: FACT FROM FICTION
Chances are that you’ve heard the rumors: Copper mugs cause cancer. Drinking out of copper can make you sick. Better hold off on that Moscow Mule if you know what’s good for you.
Or maybe you’ve heard conflicting information: Copper may be the cure for cancer. Copper mugs can kill viruses including COVID-19. Drinking out of copper is no big deal.
The truth is, humans have been using copper as a drinking vessel since ancient times. And, over the course of history, we’ve learned a thing or two about how it affects our health. Here’s what we know now.
IS DRINKING FROM COPPER TOXIC?
A few years ago, the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division issued a bulletin warning people about the dangers of copper mugs, and it spread like wildfire.
The bulletin said that when copper mixes with acidic foods, copper may be leached into the food because it’s highly reactive at low pH levels. Moscow Mules, wine, fruit juice and vinegar all have a pH of less than 6.0, which is the “safe” cutoff.
Even though copper occurs naturally in the environment and is necessary in our bodies, copper over-exposure can cause you to experience nausea, dizziness, headaches, diarrhea, and irritation to your mouth, nose, and eyes.
However, most experts agree that drinking Moscow Mules out of unlined copper mugs will not cause any negative health effects.
For one thing, you’d need to leave your cocktail sitting around for many, many hours before the drink would become dangerous. Bill Marler, a lawyer who specializes in food-poisoning cases, says that you would have to be drinking Moscow Mules from a copper cup “every meal of every day for 25 years” before worrying about getting copper poisoning.
So you can rest easy with your Moscow Mule order at happy hour. And of course, cocktails aren’t the only drink served in copper mugs. The less acidic, the safer. So go ahead — brew up a batch of iced tea and drink from your 100% copper mug without concern!
CAN COPPER CAUSE CANCER?
In short, the Environmental Protection Agency has stated that there’s no evidence that drinking out of copper mugs can cause cancer in humans.
The long view is that there is encouraging research that points to copper compounds working against certain cancer cells.
For example, a new study on mice used copper-based nanoparticles to destroy tumors without the use of chemotherapy — and the tumors did not return.
So the real question is: Can copper cure cancer?
Researchers on the mice study believe that a combination of nanoparticles and immunotherapy could work as a vaccine for up to 60% of cancers, including lung, breast, ovarian and colon cancers.
Additionally, copper historically has been known for its strong antioxidant properties that help fight off free radicals.
WHY DRINK FROM COPPER?
Now that we’re in the middle of a pandemic, there’s never been a better time to drink from an unlined copper mug.
Ancient civilizations stored water in copper containers, believing that ingesting water purified in copper would help maintain their health. This has since been proved by modern science.
For instance, researchers put bacteria-contaminated water into room-temperature copper pots, and when they tested it 16 hours later they found no bacteria in the water.
This comes in very handy as we’re experiencing the coronavirus pandemic — science has shown how amazing the microbial powers of copper truly are, even on COVID-19. Copper killed the virus within a few hours, while the virus survived on stainless steel and glass for much longer.
Copper has been used to kill infections as far back as 1,600 B.C., according to Smith’s Papyrus, the oldest-known medical document. For example, Chinese people used copper coins to treat heart and stomach pain. And Phoenicians inserted shavings from bronze swords into their battle wounds.
In the 5,000-year-old healing science of Ayurveda, drinking copper-enriched water first thing in the morning was thought to balance the body.
Other benefits of copper include regulating blood pressure, lowering bad cholesterol, producing melanin for your skin, speeding up healing, aiding with iron absorption, strengthening bones and detoxing your stomach — just to name a few.
So go ahead, break out your 100% copper mugs and mix up your favorite drink. Relax, and savor the refreshing flavors of a summertime lemonade or Moscow Mule. And, last but definitely not least, soak up all the benefits you’re gaining from the tiny amount of copper you’re drinking.