Quitting Smoking for the New Year? Cutting Back Alcohol May Help

Those resolving to stop smoking cigarettes in the new year may benefit from scaling back their alcohol consumption, according to a recent study. 

The observational study, published in Nicotine & Tobacco Research, found a correlation between alcohol and nicotine metabolite ratio (NMR). The researchers defined NMR as “an index of the rate of nicotine metabolism that is associated smoking level and lapses.” 

“It takes a lot of determination to quit smoking, often several attempts,” said lead study author Sarah Dermody, an assistant professor at Oregon State University. “This research suggests that drinking is changing the nicotine metabolism as indexed by the nicotine metabolite ratio, and that daily smoking and heavy drinking may best be treated together.” 

The study included 22 daily smokers (mean age, 46.77 years; 63.64% male) who were also receiving treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD). Researchers assessed participants’ daily alcohol and cigarette use, salivary and urinary NMR, nicotine exposure via urinary total nicotine equivalents (TNE), and carbon monoxide (CO). 

TNE, CO, and cigarette use did not change over time, but salivary and urinary NMR in men decreased over time. Men also significantly cut back the number of drinks they consumed each week, while women did not. 

People with high NMRs tend to smoke more and have a harder time quitting, previous research has indicated. 

“What’s really interesting is that the nicotine metabolite ratio is clinically useful,” said Dermody. “People with a higher ratio have a harder time quitting smoking cold turkey. They have are also less likely to successfully quit using nicotine replacement therapy products.” 

The lack of change in women may be due to their low level of drinking at baseline, Dermody added. 

“The rate of drinking for women in the study started low and stayed low,” she said. “I anticipate that in a larger generalized study we would not see the difference between men and women like that.” 

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Smoking and Risk of Colorectal Cancer Sub-Classified by Tumor-Infiltrating T Cells 

Smoking is the dominating modifiable risk factor in younger patients with STEMI 

The effect of smoking on obesity: Evidence from a randomized trial

Sources: Oregon State University, Nicotine & Tobacco Research