Can a Gold Ring Diagnose Anemia?

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Q. When I swipe a gold ring down the side of my face, it leaves a black mark. A friend told me that means I'm iron- deficient. Is this true?
A black mark from gold? Impossible! So imagine our surprise when the trick worked on two members of our staff-and they are both anemic! To help us solve this mystery, the firm of Hoover and Strong, a Richmond, VA, company that manufactures precious metal products, was kind enough to test 25 members of their staff using 14-karat yellow gold-an alloy of gold, silver, copper, and zinc. Seven employees got a black mark, and after a blood test, only one turned out to be anemic. So much for the anemia theory. We found an explanation from Paul Kechijian, MD, of New York University School of Medicine, an expert in how diseases of the body affect the skin. Dr. Kechijian told us that a metal ring cannot diagnose iron deficiency. Any reaction is likely due to individual skin chemistry. "That's why one brand of perfume worn by 10 different women never smells the same." The gold ring test is fun, but only a blood test can diagnose iron deficiency, the main symptom of which is fatigue.

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By Jaime Pumphrey with and Gloria McVeigh

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