Background: In the present study, trace and toxic elements were determined in scalp hair and blood samples of patients diagnosed with diabetes mellitus (DM) who are smokers living in Dublin, Ireland. These results were compared to age- and gender-matched healthy, non-smoker controls. In this study, these toxic metals (Cu, Cd, Fe, Ni, and Pb) were also determined in different components of imported branded cigarettes, including the filler tobacco (FT), filter (before and after normal smoking by a single volunteer), and ash.
Methods: The concentrations of trace and toxic elements were measured by inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectrophotometer after microwave-assisted acid digestion. The validity and accuracy of the methodology were checked using certified reference materials and by the conventional wet acid digestion method on the same certified reference material and on real samples. The recovery of all the studied elements was found to be in the range of 96.41 - 99.7% in certified reference material.
Results: The results of this study showed that the mean values of cadmium, copper, iron, nickel, and lead were significantly higher (p < 0.001), in scalp hair and blood samples of diabetic patients as compared to referents of both genders. The smoker referents and DM patients have two to three times higher values of these elements than those subjects who were not smokers, whereas, the concentrations of zinc and chromium were lower in the scalp hair and blood samples of diabetic patients as compared to referents. The concentrations/percentage of trace and toxic metals in different components of cigarettes were calculated with respect to their total contents in FT of all branded cigarettes before smoking, while smoke concentration was calculated by subtracting the filter and ash contents from the filler tobacco content of each branded cigarette.
Conclusions: This study showed that increased toxic elements and decreased essential elements as a result of cigarette smoking, are associated with diabetes mellitus. Therefore, these elements may play a role in the development and pathogenesis of diabetes mellitus.