Study Reveals Best Way To Quit Smoking

Study Reveals Best Way To Quit Smoking

Smoking is one of the most addictive and deadly poor health habits. While many smokers want to quit, nicotine withdrawals and other triggers cause many to continue to light up. However, new research suggests that smokers might want to combine cessation aids in an attempt to successfully kick the habit.

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that combing both nicotine patches with the drug Chantix improved the odds of smokers finally flicking the habit.

The study was conducted to assess the safety and effectiveness of the drug Chantix when used alongside the nicotine patch. The researchers compared this data with assessments of using Chantix alone when quitting.

“The combination appears to be safe, although further studies are needed to confirm this,” Dr. Coenie Koegelenberg, lead study author and associate professor of pulmonology at Stellenbosch University and Tygerberg Academic Hospital, South Africa said.

The randomized, blind study included 446 smokers (mostly female) from seven centers in South Africa who took Chantix with either nicotine or a placebo patch two weeks before their target quit date. The participants were then followed for a period of twelve weeks after their quit dates, and were also checked on six month later.

The finding reveals that those who used Chantix with the nicotine patch were still not smoking compared with those who only used Chantix and were given the placebo. At the twelve-week follow-up, 55 % participants successfully quit in the first group, 41% in the placebo group. At the six-month follow-up, 49% were still not smoking, compared to the 33 % in the placebo group.

Still, more than one-third of the participants were still smoking six months after the initial two-week treatment.

Both groups reported nausea, depression, trouble sleeping, and constipation. The control group who received a combination of the treatment had more reports (14%) of a skin reaction compared to the placebo group (8%).

What is Chantix?

Chantix, also known by its generic name varenicline, is a non-nicotine prescription medicine that helps smokers quit. It has already been prescribed to over 9 million Americans ages 18 and over.

Chantix attaches to nicotine receptors in the brain, blocking then and reducing the release of dopamine, which is associated with pleasure. Nicotine in cigarettes causes dopamine to be released, which results in dependency. Smokers should take the drug a week before quitting, so that it can build up in the body. Smokers can continue to smoke during this first week, but must stop by day 8.

Chantrix is manufactured by Pfizer and was approved by U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in May 2006.

98 suicides and 188 suicide attempts have been linked to Chantrix since 2009. Side effects of the drug include mood swings, suicidal thoughts, aggression, paranoia, hallucinations, panic, and confusion. The FDA ruled July 2009 that Chantrix should carry a “black box” warning label.

In 2012, the FDA revealed that smokers who took Chantrix could be at a higher risk of stroke and heart attacks compared to those who didn’t take the drug. However, they also said that the benefits did outweigh these risks.

Depending on insurance, Chantix costs anywhere between $1.53-$6.39 per day; however, many insurance companies do not cover smoking cessation medications.

Nicotine patches can cost less than $4 per day.

Cigarette Facts

Cigarettes contain over 4,000 chemicals including cancer-causing carcinogens like tar, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, ammonia, and arsenic. The nicotine found naturally in tobacco gives cigarettes its addictive property. Nicotine reaches the brain in six quick seconds after being inhaled into the lungs. It can stimulate your brain in small doses, but acts as a depressant when in large quantities, making the smoker feel calm.

According to the American Cancer Society, nicotine is absorbed into the bloodstream, affects the heart, blood vessels, hormones, brain, and metabolism. Over time, the smoker develops a tolerance for nicotine, which results in more smoking. When a smoker quits, the nicotine levels in the body drops, causing the simpler to feel irritated and on edge. Withdrawal symptoms start within a few hours of the last smoked cigarette and can last a few days. The symptoms include: dizziness, depression, anxiety, anger, headaches, chest tightness, weight gain, and slower heart rate.

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cigarettes cause about one in five deaths in the U.S. It causes about 90% of all lung cancer death in both American men and women.  Smoking can cause cancer in any part of the body. It also has been linked to diabetes, strokes, heart attacks, infertility, low bone density, and rheumatoid arthritis.