Ann N Y Acad Sci 2007 Dec;1122:50-68
Research and Development, Sigma tau-HealthScience, Via Treviso 4, Pomezia 00040, Italy.
Drug abuse is associated with significant health risk. Whether drug abusers are at a higher risk of suffering the metabolic syndrome is not widely known. The metabolic syndrome is a cluster of metabolic abnormalities, including hyperinsulinemia, hypertension, dyslipidemia, and abdominal obesity, and is probably triggered by initial imbalances at the cellular level in various critical metabolic pathways. These initially small metabolic imbalances are believed to cascade with time and lead to larger problems. Some indications that drug abuse may increase the risk of the metabolic syndrome include the following: Drug-abusing patients have higher rates of diabetes complications. Substance abuse is a significant contributing factor for treatment noncompliance in diabetes. Nutrition education can enhance substance abuse treatment outcomes. Each type of drug/substance abuse has a unique profile of toxicity. For example, the amphetamines generally affect the cardiovascular and neurological systems, worsening the risk factors for the metabolic syndrome. Methamphetamine (meth) abusers suffer cognitive deficits and abnormal metabolic activity, which affect nutritional status. This condition is further worsened by a drastic reduction in oral health in meth abusers, resulting in improper chewing and, therefore, digestion. Nutritional deficiency in combination with drug abuse would increase the risk of developing the metabolic syndrome by increasing cell damage, augmenting excitotoxicity, reducing energy production, and lowering the antioxidant potential of the cells. Another potential risk factor in the development of the metabolic syndrome is genetic vulnerability, especially in combination with drug abuse and nutritional deficiencies. The strategies available to treat this problem include pharmacological agents as well as dietary antioxidants. Such measures may be useful in reducing drug abuse-related toxicity that may lead to the metabolic syndrome.