Violent Behavior May be Linked to Abnormal Copper and Zinc Levels


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For Release on Tuesday, August 12, 1997

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Violent Behavior May Be Linked to Abnormal Copper and Zinc Levels

NAPERVILLE, Ill. -- Violent behavior in young men appears to be linked to an imbalance in body chemistry, specifically the relationship of copper and zinc, according to a study published today in the journal Physiology & Behavior.

"Our preliminary findings show that young men who have varying levels of angry, violent behavior also have elevated copper and depressed zinc levels; the non-assaultive controls in our study did not. The study and our general observations in working with violent children and young adults indicates that behavior disorders are correlated to abnormal metal metabolism or other body chemistry irregularities," said William Walsh, Ph.D., lead author of the paper and president of the Health Research Institute (HRI), a not-for-profit research organization founded in 1983 that investigates the role of biochemistry in behavior and health.

The study enrolled all males between the ages of 3 years and 20 years making a first visit during a two-month period beginning January 15, 1994, to the Pfeiffer Treatment Center, an outpatient treatment center run by HRI, for an evaluation of behavior disorders. A test group of individuals with a history of assaultive behavior and a control group of individuals with no history of assaultive behavior were compared.

The test and control groups were determined based on an intake session and medical history, coupled with the application of the Walsh-Isaacson Behavior Scale, which was used to assign numerical values to violent behavior by ranking it from 1 to 5 on a scale measuring both frequency and intensity of behaviors. Using the scale, a total of 153 subjects - 135 assaultive males and 18 controls were identified for the study. Blood samples were taken to determine body chemistry with samples analyzed by an independent laboratory, SmithKline Beecham Clinical Laboratories.

The test group was found to have a mean copper/zinc ratio of 1.40, while the control group had a ratio of 1.02, a statistically significant difference.

"Zinc is an essential trace metal that is recognized as playing a role in a number of physiological disorders, including dermatologic conditions such as acne and exzema, and this data suggests that violent behavior is one of those disorders," said Walsh.

"In addition to our observations that copper/zinc ratios play a role in violent behavior, four separate outcome studies have indicated improved behavior in these young people after we've been able to normalize the ratios and other biochemical imbalances, using zinc and other nutrients," Walsh said.

More than 10,000 patients with behavior and other disorders have been treated since the Pfeiffer Treatment Center opened in 1989. The center identifies specific chemical imbalances through extensive testing and provides individualized, non-drug nutrient treatments for balancing body chemistry.

Walsh is a chemical engineer with more than 30 years of scientific research experience. After graduating from the University of Notre Dame in 1958, he went on to earn two masters degrees at the University of Michigan and a doctorate in chemical engineering from Iowa State University.

Before founding the HRI in 1982 and, subsequently the Pfeiffer Treatment Center, Walsh spent 22 years at Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont, Ill. He became interested in body chemistry and biochemical disorders as a result of his volunteer work with inmates at Stateville Penitentiary, Joliet, Ill. He is the author of more than 150 technical reports and articles and has made numerous presentations on his research, including the results of an outcome study presented at the June 1996 meeting of the American Psychiatric Association.

Co-authors of the study include H. Ronald Isaacson, Ph.D., Fatema Rehman and Anmarie Hall of HRI.

HRI and the Pfeiffer Treatment Center are located in Naperville, Ill.

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