Germanium

(BAN, USAN, rINN)

Chemical information

Germanio.
Ge = 72.64.
CAS — 7440-56-4.

Profile

Germanium compounds have been used in dietary supplements promoted for conditions including cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, and immunodeficiency disorders. However, germanium compounds can produce severe renal damage and their use should be discouraged. Germanium has also been used in dental alloys and has various industrial uses.

Effects on the kidneys.

In the UK the DOH has recommended that germanium should not be taken as a dietary supplement because of a significant incidence of renal toxicity. There have been a number of reports of severe renal damage, including fatalities, resulting from germanium ingestion.
1. Okada K, et al. Renal failure caused by long-term use of a germanium preparation as an elixir. Clin Nephrol 1989; 31: 219–24
2. van der Spoel JI, et al. Dangers of dietary germanium supplements. Lancet 1990; 336: 117. Correction. ibid. 1991; 337: 864
3. Schauss AG. Nephrotoxicity in humans by the ultratrace element germanium. Ren Fail 1991; 13: 1–4
4. Hess B, et al. Tubulointerstitial nephropathy persisting 20 months after discontinuation of chronic intake of germanium lactate citrate. Am J Kidney Dis 1993; 21: 548–52
5. Tao SH, Bolger PM. Hazard assessment of germanium supplements. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol 1997; 25: 211–19
6. Swennen B, et al. Epidemiological survey of workers exposed to inorganic germanium compounds. Occup Environ Med 2000; 57: 242–8.
Published May 08, 2019.