Medications Greatly Improve Smokers' Chances Of Quitting, Study Finds backposted on Thu, 16 Aug at 17:32
New research by Roswell Park Center Institute (RPCI), published in the journal Addiction, has discovered that FDA-approved stop-smoking medications give smokers a much better chance of quitting than if they were to try without help.
Scientists have previously studied medications known to help smokers quit, but the medications were proven more effective in clinical trials than population-based studies. Those medications include:
nicotine replacement therapy (NRT)- which gives the body nicotine in a safe way (nicotine patches, nicotine gum)
bupropion- a drug that acts as a nicotinic acetylcholine receptor antagonist that helps reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms
varenicline- a drug that stops the addiction by partially activating nicotine receptors in the brain, reducing nicotine cravings.
Since population-based studies have shown mixed results on how well these medications work when they are not used inside the confines of a research study, the team in this study wanted to get to the bottom of it.
The current research, conducted through the International Tobacco Control (ITC) research collaboration, became one of the largest, real-world evaluations of medication effectiveness ever conducted. It was also the first to comprehensively control for any biases in smokers' recall of quit attempts.
Smoking behaviors of more than 2,500 adults, from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada, were observed between 2006 to 2009.
Participants were asked questions regarding when and how they tried to quit. For those recalling they had just recently quit, a six-month continuous abstinence was assessed at a second interview.
Results showed that people using varenicline, bupropion, or the nicotine patch had a much higher success rate than those without any medication.
Karin Kasza, MA, lead author of the study and statistician in the Division of Cancer Prevention & Population Sciences at RPCI, explained:
"By restricting our analyses to those who made very recent quit attempts, we reduced the extent to which differences in quit-attempt recall could bias the estimates of medication effectiveness. Consistent with the strong evidence from clinical trials, our findings show that medications are indeed effective in increasing smokers' chances of quitting when used in the real world."
Ron Borland, PhD, co-author of the study, and Nigel Gray Distinguished Fellow in Cancer Prevention at the Cancer Council Victoria in Melbourne, Australia, said:
"The major advance of this study is that we have been able to show that greater forgetting of unassisted failed attempts is the most likely reason other studies have not found a benefit for medication in population-based settings. This finding should reassure clinicians and public health workers to continue to encourage the widespread use of medications."
There are still many smokers out there unsure about using medication to help them quit, and try to quit without any help at all, according to Andrew Hyland, PhD, Chair of the Department of Health Behavior at RPCI. "And even when medications are used, quitting smoking is hard, and relapses are common. Continued efforts are needed to develop and deliver more effective treatments to help smokers who want to quit."