Comparison of Serum Lead Level in Oral Opium Dependent Men with Healthy Control Group

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Assistant Professor of Surgery, RafsanjanUniversity of Medical Sciences, Rafsanjan, Iran

2 Psychiatry Department, RafsanjanUniversity of Medical Sciences, Rafsanjan, Iran

3 Student of Medicine, Rafsanjan University of Medical Sciences, Rafsanjan, Iran

4 General Practitioner, Statistical advisor, Fatemeh Zahra Hospital, Tehran, Iran


Drug abuse is a major health problem in the Middle East countries such as Iran. Drug dealers may add lead to increase the weight of opium. Several reports have found lead poisoning symptoms in opium dependent patients, which are usually non specific. To the extent of our knowledge, there is no comparative study about blood lead level (BLL) in opium dependent patients with healthy control group. Therefore, the main purpose of this study was comparison of serum lead level in oral opium dependent men with control group.
Materials and Methods
In this study, BLL of forty- four subjects in two patient and control groups was evaluated. The patient group (22 cases) comprised patients who used oral opium. The control group (22 cases) was matched with patient group in age and sex with the mean age of 38.8± 6.7. BLL was assessed immediately, using atomic absorption spectrophotometer.
BLL in the patient group had a range of 7.2 to 69.9 mg/dl (21.9±13.2). In the healthy control group, BLL was between 4.1 and 17.4 mg/dl (8.6±3.5). The mean difference of two groups (t= 4.56) was statistically significant (p<0.0001). In the patient group, BLL had a significant correlation with the amount of opium consumption (r= 0.65, p<0.01). However, there was no such correlation with the length of experience of opium consumption in the patient group.
It would be concluded that the opium dependent patients have elevated BLL compared to the healthy control. Therefore, screening for blood lead concentration is helpful for the opium dependent patients, especially with non-specific symptoms.


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