BACKGROUND: Substance abuse and its consequences are a matter of great concern in South-East Asian countries, especially Pakistan and Afghanistan. Due to contamination of Naswar with copper, or by any other physiological mechanism, there is a great chance of copper poisoning in addicts. Keeping in view the literature, there is no comparative study on serum copper levels (SCuL) in Naswar addicts. Therefore, it is very important to evaluate SCuL in this population.
METHODS: The current study was performed in September 2016 where a total of 75 volunteers (selected from villages near the University of Peshawar, Pakistan) were grouped as Naswar addicts (n = 45) and the control group (n = 30). The addicts were compared to controls for age, weight, BMI, FBS and creatinine clearance. For serum analysis, about 3mL of blood was collected from which the serum was separated, digested, and then evaluated for SCuL using flame atomic absorption spectroscopy at the Department of Pharmacy and Centralized Resource Laboratory of University of Peshawar.
RESULTS: The SCuL in addicts had a range of 2.6 to 11.1 µg/dL with a mean of 5.1 ± 2.4 µg/dL. In the healthy control group, SCuL was between 1.7 to 3.9 µg/dL with a mean of 2.6 ±0.1 µg/dL. The mean difference between the two study groups was statistically significant (P = 0.005); the duration of addiction and quantity of drug consumptions per day correlated positively with SCuL.
CONCLUSION: Serum level of copper in Naswar addicts is elevated compared to the Control group. The exact cause of SCuL elevations and the mechanisms involved must be studied in large group samples.