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More Oxygen Hype: The Millennium Cooler

Stephen Barrett, M.D.


 Are you getting all the oxygen you need for good health? According to an ad for the "Millennium Oxygen Cooler":

If you're like most of us, you're probably not. Yet studies reveal that oxygen in your bloodstream can enhance your ability to fight infectious bacteria, microbes, and viruses. How? Oxygen in the bloodstream acts as a cleaner, helping to rid your body of the toxins that build up due to pollution. Our revolutionary, high-tech oxygen water cooler contains water with a 600% higher concentration of dissolved oxygen (as compared, say, to a mountain stream) which may help maintain your health, concentration, skin tone, and overall well being. It's far better than bottled water which allows oxygen to evaporate. And because our cooler doesn't use any flammable materials, it's perfectly safe.

This statement appears in the January 2001 catalog of InteliHealth Healthy Home, the mail-order service of the highly respected InteliHealth Web site. The product, which sells for $1,590 plus $19.95 for shipping, is a modern-looking cylindrical device about five feet high and a foot in diameter. It is not listed in Intelihealth's online catalog.

The cooler is manufactured by Oxygen Technologies, which claims:

  • "We are being more and more deprived of precious oxygen in the modern environment, and it is causing serious health problems as numerous studies and researches on Oxygen Deficiency have proved."
  • Today's oxygen level in the air is far less than in ancient times (oxygen content was 38% 10,000 years ago, compared to the 21% it is now) and getting worse due to pollution and industrialization."
  • The oxygen cooler " provides more oxygen to the blood cells to enhance the body's ability to fight infectious bacteria, microbes, and viruses. Oxygen also acts as a cleaner, it cleans excreta and those toxins left in the body."

Other companies are making similar claims for pills and liquids that supposedly contain "stabilized" or "aerobic" oxygen. Some sellers claim that "oxygen deficiency" or "oxygen starvation" is an underlying cause of disease and has been increasing because the oxygen content of the earth's atmosphere has been decreasing.

The above claims are about as silly as anything I have seen. Here are the facts:

  • Oxygen from the air enters the lungs and is captured by the heme (iron) portion of the blood. The body adapts to get what it needs by changing its breathing rate. Blood returning to the lungs contains surplus oxygen.
  • Taking oxygen into the stomach through a liquid, pill, or food would not significantly raise the body's blood level of oxygen. The recommended dosage of "stabilized oxygen" products would provide less oxygen than people get in a single deep breath.
  • Even if it could, it would have no effect on infectious disease or on "ridding the body of toxins."
  • "Oxygen deficiency" is not an underlying cause of disease.
  • The oxygen content of the earth's atmosphere has not changed significantly during the past 10,000 years.
  • If enough oxygen is available to sustain life, the body will extract what it needs from the air and deliver what is needed to the cells. In mountainous regions where the air pressure is lowest, humans readily adapt to reasonable levels.
  • It is possible for a device to add a tiny amount of oxygen to water in a sealed tank, but soon after the water is exposed to room air, most of it will quickly bubble out.
  • To extract significant amounts of oxygen from water, a human would need gills.

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This article was posted on March 17, 2001.