Navigation Links
Lead Poisoning Unlikely Cause of Beethoven's Death
Date:6/3/2010

Technology helped researchers analyze bone fragments to rule out one of many theories

THURSDAY, June 3 (HealthDay News) -- Among the many health complications that have long been considered as possible contributors to the demise of world-renowned composer Ludwig van Beethoven in 1827, scientists believe they can now rule out lead poisoning.

The conclusion, not yet published, stems from a fresh analysis of Beethoven's skull fragments, conducted by researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, as well as the Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies at San Jose State University.

"Ninety-five percent of lead in the adult body is stored in bone, where it stays for years, even after death," co-author Andrew Todd, an associate professor of preventive medicine at Mount Sinai, said in a news release. "Measuring the amount of lead in Beethoven's bone fragments allows us to reach back through time to measure his lead exposure during life."

The two fragments Todd and his colleagues examined are believed to have been initially collected by a friend of the composer, Dr. Gerhard von Breuning, when he exhumed and reburied Beethoven's corpse in 1863. In turn, von Breuning purportedly gave the fragments to a University of Vienna professor, whose family has retained the samples ever since.

The current exam follows an earlier 2000 look, also conducted by Todd, which sought to measure skull thickness, while also analyzing the surface of a small piece of skull bone.

The latest attempt to glean information utilized a technique known as X-ray fluorescence (XRF), which preserves the integrity of the examined bone. XRF exposes the sample to a small radiation dose -- described as being equal to 10 minutes of natural background radiation -- to highlight any lead stored in the bone.

The investigators found that the larger of the two fragments had 12 micrograms of lead per gram of bone mineral, an amount insufficient to support the contention that Beethoven suffered from enough lead exposure to have caused life-threatening renal failure.

"For someone who was Beethoven's age, we would expect more than that; one comparison dataset predicts 21 micrograms of lead per gram of bone mineral," Todd explained.

As one of many theories, lead poisoning had long held traction as a possible culprit in the composer's death for several reasons. For one, it is known to prompt irritability, for which Beethoven was well-known. In addition, it can cause both colic and kidney failure, both of which, alongside liver failure, have been cited as possible underlying causes of his death at the age of 56.

Some have posited that Beethoven perhaps routinely sweetened inexpensive wine with lead. Still others have found evidence of high amounts of lead in samples of the composer's hair, a sign of exposure possibly related to a surgical procedure he underwent -- that would have had to have occurred in the months immediately preceding his passing.

Yet despite plans for continued testing, the findings already seem to set aside any notion that lead was, in fact, the smoking gun.

More information

For more on lead poisoning, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.



-- Alan Mozes



SOURCE: Mount Sinai School of Medicine, news release, June 2, 2010


'/>"/>
Copyright©2010 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved

Related medicine news :

1. Shoppers Cautioned Against Poisoning With Holiday Gifts
2. New Tests Confirm Wood Pallets Harbor Deadly Food Poisoning Bacteria
3. Bitrex Bitter Safety Additive Exhibiting at the Safe Kids Fair 2010; Making a Bitter Face to Learn about Poisoning Prevention
4. MSU scientists develop more effective method of predicting lead-poisoning risk
5. Mother of Binge Drinking Victim Urges Students and Parents to Discuss Signs of Alcohol Poisoning, Emphasize Peer Responsibility Prior to Spring Break
6. OldHouseWeb.com Educates Homeowners on Lead Poisoning Safeguards During National Poison Prevention Week
7. Poisoning by prescription drugs on the rise
8. Food Poisoning Suspected in 3 Deaths, 40 Illnesses at Central State Hospital in Pineville, LA
9. DTWI's Travel Carbon Monoxide Detector Prevents Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Whilst Holidaying Abroad, or in the UK
10. Scientists offer solutions to arsenic groundwater poisoning in southern Asia
11. Older dental fillings contain form of mercury unlikely to be toxic
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/27/2016)... ... June 27, 2016 , ... "FCPX editors can now reveal their media with ... X," said Christina Austin - CEO of Pixel Film Studios. , ProSlice Color ... users can now reveal the media of their split screens with growing colorful ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... ... June 27, 2016 , ... ... patient payment industry today announced its strategic partnership with Connance, a healthcare ... , The two companies’ proven, proprietary technology combine to provide health systems, ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... Park, KS (PRWEB) , ... June 27, 2016 , ... ... in retailers of Eyeglasses . , Millions of individuals in the United States ... eyeglasses have become a way to both correct vision and make a fashion statement. ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... Battle Creek, Michigan (PRWEB) , ... June 26, 2016 , ... ... abuse, joined as sponsor of the 2016 Cereal Festival and World’s Longest Breakfast Table ... held in honor of the city’s history as home to some of the world’s ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... ... ... PawPaws brand pet supplements owned by Whole Health Supply is ... of felines. The formula is all-natural and is made from Chinese herbs that have ... Kidney Support Supplement Soft Chews are Astragalus Root Extract and Rehmannia Root Extract ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... , June 24, 2016 ... appointment of Dr. Edward Futcher to ... Director, effective June 23, 2016.Dr. Futcher was also ... and Governance Committees.  As a non-executive member of ... expertise and strategic counsel to VolitionRx in connection ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... June 23, 2016 Research and ... Excipients Market by Type (Organic Chemical (Sugar, Petrochemical, Glycerin), ... Topical, Coating, Parenteral) - Global Forecast to 2021" ... The global pharmaceutical excipients market is projected ... CAGR of 6.1% in the forecast period 2016 to ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 23, 2016 Research and Markets has ... 52" report to their offering. ... creates a favourable commercial environment for MedImmune to enter. The ... that will serve to drive considerable growth for effective anti-influenza ... to cap sales considerably, but development is still in its ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: