Saturday, May 25, 2024
Home Society Ludwig van Beethoven suffered lead poisoning, but it was not immediately fatal

Ludwig van Beethoven suffered lead poisoning, but it was not immediately fatal

by News Room
0 comment

Scientists have debunked a popular theory: although Beethoven did indeed suffer from lead poisoning, it was probably not the direct cause of his death.

It is no longer a secret that composer Ludwig van Beethoven suffered from many health problems. The most famous of these is his poor hearing, although scientists have also studied his liver and kidney ailments for years. Around the year 2000, a theory was put forward for the first time, according to which Beethoven could have suffered from lead poisoning. Analysis of the hair showed that Beethoven had a very high level of lead in his bloodstream. After further examination of the hair, it turned out that there was a problem with the results: the hair did not belong to Beethoven at all, but to a woman.

American researchers have now succeeded in repeating the same experiment with locks of hair that once belonged to Beethoven. Analysis of this recent study shows that Beethoven did indeed suffer from lead poisoning. However, this lead poisoning was not severe enough to be the direct cause of his death – but it could potentially explain all of his other health problems. Researcher Nader Rifai participated in the study. He explains: “The levels (of lead, ed.) found do not support the theory that Beethoven died of lead poisoning. However, the levels found are so severe that they likely contributed to other illnesses that Beethoven suffered from.” The study has been published in the journal Clinical chemistry.

Strands of hair
For the study, the researchers used Bermann in Halm-Thayer hair locks. These strands of hair were further studied at the genomic level in an earlier study and were officially linked to Beethoven. In this study, the researchers used 0.01 grams of both strands of hair. To examine the sample, they then used the recommended procedure, defined by Society of Hair Testing. Finally, they used the results to calculate how much lead was in Beethoven’s bloodstream. From analysis Bermann lock it turns out that Beethoven’s body had 64 times more lead than “normal”. Analysis Halm-Thayer lock however, takes this a step further; based on this hair loss, Beethoven had 95 times the legal limit of lead in his bloodstream. Research shows that while these levels are certainly high enough to cause health problems, they are not high enough on their own to cause death.

A complex puzzle
The results of the study are significant because they show that Beethoven probably did not die of lead poisoning. Rifai hopes that this information can help researchers in the future to find out what caused the famous composer’s death. He concludes: “We certainly believe that this study can make an important contribution to the complex search for the exact cause of Ludwig van Beethoven’s death. We believe that this new information will allow historians and physicists to better understand the composer’s medical history.”

Leave a Comment