An opium poppy field in Afghanistan.
/ An opium poppy field in Afghanistan.


After she confessed swallowing 30 packs of opium, a 51- year-old female was given a healthcare facility emergency clinic in Tehran, the New England Journal of Medication reported the other day. When a CT scan verified the existence of numerous little oval things in her abdominal area, the physicians offered her laxatives. She passed a collection of little, sausage-like opium loads “without problem,” report physicians Nasim Zamani and Hossein Hassanian-Moghaddam.

Among those packs was sent out for laboratory analysis, and results returned verifying opium and likewise the existence of lead– a lot of lead. Thankfully for this specific client, she didn’t appear to be revealing any signs of lead poisoning, however she appears to have actually left gently. Over the previous couple of years, the issue of lead-contaminated opium has actually ended up being significantly immediate in Iran, which is utilized as a significant path for opium trafficking from Afghanistan.

In early 2016, compose Zamani and Hassanian-Moghaddam in a CDC report, another client case report discovered blood lead levels 14 times greater than regular. The client in concern didn’t have any apparent direct exposure to lead however was understood to utilize oral opium. That triggered tracking of another 800 clients over the next couple of months, whose blood lead levels varied from about 5 times greater than regular to 1,100 times greater These blood lead levels were significantly greater than earlier reports of lead poisoning in opium users.

A more current analysis of 249 clients with a history of opium reliance discovered a narrower however still worrying series of raised blood levels, in addition to typical signs of lead poisoning like stomach discomfort and queasiness. It’s unclear simply just how much lead an opium user may be consuming or breathing in, compose Zamani and Hassanian-Moghaddam, however they determine that it might be significantly greater than the levels that triggered a “cluster of heavy-metal poisoning amongst Ayurvedic medication users” in the United States

It’s likewise unclear how the lead winds up in opium. Opium poppies grown in lead-contaminated soil have actually been discovered to collect lead, and Afghanistan’s poppy-growing areas overlap to a big level with its lead mines, note Mohammad Mahdi Hayatbakhsh and his associates in their research study of opium users’ lead levels It’s possible that the procedure of producing opium from poppy seed pods likewise presents lead contamination.

The lead might likewise be included purposefully eventually to increase the weight (and for that reason the sale worth) of the end product.

With the high level of opium usage in Iran, lead poisoning from opium is an issue in its own right: a World Health Company report approximates that more than 250,000 individuals in Iran are at threat of lead poisoning through opium.

In the United States, most of opium comes through South America and Mexico, and the issue has actually not yet been reported in opium-derived items like heroin; there are just a couple of reports of lead-laced heroin from the 1980 s. However some opium grown in Afghanistan does make its method to the United States, and it comprises most of the opium market in Russia, Asia, and Europe The threat, recommends the WHO, “highlights a requirement for much better tracking of controlled substance products.”

The New England Journal of Medication,2018 DOI: 101056/ NEJMicm1807901( About DOIs).