Study of Trace Metal Imbalances in the Scalp Hair of Stomach Cancer Patients with Different Types and Stages


Stomach cancer is among the most common forms of cancers, and diet and environmental factors play important roles in its malignancy. This study was conducted to evaluate the trace metal contents in the scalp hair of stomach cancer patients and healthy donors to investigate probable relationship between metal imbalances and cancer. The samples were digested in HNO3-HClO4 mixture and the metals were quantified by flame atomic absorption spectrophotometry. Median level of Cr was found to be significantly higher in the patients than in the controls, while median levels of Fe, Mn and Cd were considerably reduced. The correlation pattern of metals in the patients manifested significantly divergent mutual relationships compared with the controls. Multivariate analyses showed appreciably diverse apportionment of the metals in the patients and healthy donors. Variations in the metal levels were also observed for various types (adenocarcinoma and gastrointestinal stromal tumour) as well as stages (I, II, III and IV) of stomach cancer patients. Most of the metals revealed noticeable disparities in their levels based on gender, habitat, dietary habit and smoking habit of patients and controls. Accordingly, the essential/toxic metals exhibited significant imbalance due to pathogenesis of stomach among the patients.

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We are very grateful to the officials of NORI and PIMS, Islamabad, Pakistan, for their invaluable help during sample collection. Many thanks are also due to the participants of this study for their cooperation and support.


We are grateful to the Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan, for providing financial and technical assistance to undertake this study.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Munir H. Shah.

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The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee (Ethical Review Committee, NORI and PIMS, Islamabad REF. NO. QAUC-2014-A631 and QAUC-2014-A633, respectively) and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Afzal, A., Qayyum, M.A. & Shah, M.H. Study of Trace Metal Imbalances in the Scalp Hair of Stomach Cancer Patients with Different Types and Stages. Biol Trace Elem Res 196, 365–374 (2020).

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  • AAS
  • Metal
  • Pakistan
  • Scalp hair
  • Statistical analysis
  • Stomach cancer