Cigarette smokers are better off quitting cold turkey rather than weaning themselves off of nicotine, according to research published in JAMA.
The double-blind, randomized study included 1,250 smokers in the United States (mean age, 45 years; 549 women [44%]; 958 [77%] completed the trial) divided into three groups: those who immediately reduced their nicotine intake (0.4 mg of nicotine per gram of tobacco cigarettes), those who gradually reduced (from 15.5 mg to 0.4 mg of nicotine per gram of tobacco cigarettes with five monthly dose changes), and those who maintained their intake (15.5 mg of nicotine per gram of tobacco cigarettes).
#UMNCancer in the news: Research Brief: Immediately limiting nicotine in all cigarettes could reduce smoking – featured in @JAMA_current. Research done by @umnmedschool and @UMN_Cancer superstar, Dorothy Hatsukami, PhD. https://t.co/grai8J9a6m @UMNews #GOpherACure #UMNProud #UMN
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Over a 20-week period, those who immediately cut down their nicotine intake had significantly decreased exposure to breath carbon monoxide (CO), urine 3-hydroxypropylmercapturic acid (3-HPMA, metabolite of acrolein), and urine phenanthrene tetraol (PheT, indicator of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) compared to the gradual group (CO, mean difference, -40.6 parts per million [ppm]; 3-HPMA, ratio of geometric means, 0.83; PheT, ratio of geometric means, 0.88). Exposure levels were also significantly lower for the immediate reduction group compared to the control group (CO, mean difference, -3.38 ppm; 3-HPMA, ratio of geometric means, 0.81; PheT, ratio of geometric means, 0.86). Researchers saw no significant differences between the gradual reduction and control groups.
Available evidence indicates that to achieve a lifetime of robust brain health free of dementia, it's never too early or too late to avoid smoking, be physically active, maintain health weight, and keep BP, cholesterol, and glucose-insulin levels low. https://t.co/0AJsMIMghl pic.twitter.com/nU5mLCD5dr
— JAMA (@JAMA_current) August 23, 2018
The immediate reduction group also had more smoke-free days, less cigarette dependence and smoked fewer cigarettes daily when compared to the gradual and control groups.
According to Smokefree.gov, smoking is the leading cause of heart attacks and heart disease. It also leads to lung and DNA damage that could result in cancer. Just 20 minutes after quitting, a smoker’s heart rate returns to normal, per the American Lung Association; within the first two weeks to three months, risk of heart attack decreases.
September is #NationalRecoveryMonth.
Quitting smoking isn’t easy but it can be done and will benefit your health at any age. The sooner you quit, the sooner your body will begin to heal. Find tips to help you quit at https://t.co/8TbWzw8Z1w pic.twitter.com/pPHLMLXN7R
— FDA Tobacco (@FDATobacco) September 4, 2018
The new study also speaks to the benefits of gradual reduction, according to Dr. Dorothy Hatsukami, one of the study’s authors.
“The results support the benefits of rapidly reducing nicotine in all cigarettes, primarily because this approach helped smokers, who initially had no immediate intentions to quit, experience smoke-free days,” Hatsukami, a psychiatry professor at the University of Minnesota, said. “This is good news because the majority of smokers want to quit smoking, but only a small percentage of smokers are successful.”