Silver can kill some cancers as effectively as chemotherapy and with potentially fewer side effects, new research claims.
Scientists say that old wives tales about the precious metal being a silver bullet to beat the Big C could be true.
The metal already has a wide range of medicinal uses and is a common antiseptic, antibiotic and means of purifying water in the third world.
And British researchers now say that silver compounds are as effective at killing certain cancer cells as a leading chemotherapy drug, but with potentially far fewer side-effects.
They compared it to Cisplatin, currently used to treat a wide variety of cancers, but known to have harsh side effects including nausea, vomiting and even kidney damage.
Silver is used already in everyday products such as deodorant with no known side-effects, and could make for a potentially cheaper alternative to platinum-based Cisplatin.
Researchers from the University of Leeds conducted lab tests which exposed breast and colon cancer cells to various silver-based chemicals over a six day period.
Results, published in journal Dalton Transactions, showed that these silver-compounds were as effective as Cisplatin at killing cancer with potentially fewer side effects.
While the team are still unsure about how exactly silver battles cancer, they think its effectiveness may be caused by the structure surrounding silver atoms, known as its ligand.