The changes in concentration of trace elements have effects on many organ systems, including the immune system. There have been conflicting reports on serum trace element levels in heroin users. This study was carried out to compare serum trace element concentrations in opium, heroin, and methamphetamine users.
The study was done on 90 chronically illegal drug users (n = 30 per group) and 30 controls of the similar sex and age range (from 20 to 40 years). The control group was healthy subjects with no lifetime history of substance abuse or dependence. All of the substance users were selected from among those who had a history of substance use, for a minimum of 1 year. Serum zinc (Zn), copper (Cu), iron (Fe), and magnesium (Mg) were measured spectrophotometrically using chemistry analyzer.
Serum Fe concentration was decreased in heroin (P = 0.026) and methamphetamine (P = 0.0001) users compared with healthy subjects, whereas serum Cu was higher in opium, heroin, and methamphetamine users (P < 0.01). Copper was negatively and significantly correlated with Fe in all groups (P < 0.05). There was no statistically significant difference between drug users and healthy subjects in serum concentrations of Zn and Mg.
This study showed decreased in serum concentration of iron and increase in serum copper in drug users when compared with controls.