How Blood Tests Could Hold the Key to Helping Smokers Quit
The rate at which individual smokers break down nicotine in their blood determines their best strategy, researchers say.
Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania enlisted some 1,240 people on different smoking cessation programs. Volunteers were given either nicotine patches, a non-nicotine based prescription drug called varenicline, or a placebo. Their blood was tested to see whether nicotine broke down at a normal or slower rate, while doctors balanced potential side-effects against the harms of continued smoking.
The study, published in a Lancet medical journal, concluded that those volunteers who broke down nicotine at a normal rate had a better chance of quitting with varenicline than they did with nicotine replacement patches. The volunteers who broke down nicotine at a slower rate benefited equally from all three methods, on the other hand—but they experienced more side effects with varenicline.
Professor Caryn Lerman, who led the research team, says that for some smokers who have a normal metabolism of nicotine, “The chance of success might be low on the patches but could double if they take the pill.” Meanwhile, “for a third of the population with slower breakdown, cheaper patches might be best.” However, Professor Neil Davis of the University of Bristol says that “The cost-effectiveness of these tests would need to be taken into account.” Scientists have so far only used these blood tests for research but say they could easily be developed for wider use.
You Might Also Like
Many soldiers have returned from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq with PTSD, concussions and traumatic brain injuries, mangled limbs and chronic pain—the result of roadside bombs and other guerilla... Read More
Substance abuse can lead to serious health concerns and even death. Knowing how to find the right treatment for you can make all the difference. ... Read More
We were young misfits in 1980s San Francisco, taking care of our friend, who was dying, and waiting for our own diagnoses. We were doing, selling, stealing drugs, staying as high we could. Looking back, I cringe. Yet we did the best we could. ... Read More
The late singer-songwriter talks about dependence on people and drugs in this animated version of a 1998 interview.... Read More
Execs at major media and tech companies, like Twitter and Tumblr, talk about how they deal with their own digital dependence.... Read More