Hsiao-Hua Ku

Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Mehta, Sudha

Degree Name

M.S. (Master of Science)

Legacy Department

Department of Human and Family Resources


Serum; Copper in the body; Oral contraceptives; Women--Health and hygiene; Zinc in the body


The effect of oral contraceptives on serum copper/ zinc levels was studied among 1,777 15- to 50-year-old women participants of NHANES II. Subjects who were preg nant, lactating, and had an inflammatory disease were ex eluded. Of the 1,777 subjects, 274 women (15.4%) used oral contraceptives. The majority of the oral contraceptive users were white, had income at or above poverty level, had a high school education, were in good health, and were not taking vitamin C supplements. Significantly higher (P<0.0005) mean serum copper levels were found among oral contraceptive users compared to nonusers, and among nonwhite subjects compared to white subjects. The mean serum copper level of women who used oral contraceptives was above the uppe normal range. The relative contribution of demographic variables, health status and vitamin C supplement use was explored by logistic regression analysis. The results of logistic regression analysis showed that oral contraceptive use was the most important factor in elevating serum copper level (beta=-0.504, P<0.0001). Mean serum zinc levels of women who used oral contraceptives were significantly lower (P=0.02) compared to those who did not use oral contraceptives. The mean serum zinc level was also significantly lower among nonwhite subjects than white subjects. Results of multiple regression analysis showed that of these two variables, race (beta=-0.084) made a more important contribution than oral contraceptive use (beta=0.061) in predicting serum zinc level. However, none of the factors explained their influence on zinc levels sufficiently. Thus, epidemiologic data confirms laboratory observations that serum copper levels are significantly elevated by oral contraceptive use. The effect of these drugs on lowering serum zinc levels remains questionable. Implications of elevated serum copper levels need further investigation.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [52]-58)


v, 71 pages




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