One in five people die each year from a smoking related illness like heart disease, lung cancer and stroke. But a new drug will hopefully decrease that number. Scientists believe varenicline will help smokers gradually give up this habit.
A team of scientists led by Dr. Jon O. Ebbert of the Mayo Clinic tested the effectiveness of a drug called varenicline that is said to help smokers quit by helping them gradually smoke less cigarettes, until they completely give up on this harmful behavior.
The study was conducted with help of 1,510 participants from more than 10 countries. All of these people were cigarette smokers unable to give up on this habit within the upcoming month but who were willing to try.
The participants were randomly divided into two groups. One would be administered 1 mg of varenicline twice a day for a period of 24 weeks while the other group would be taking placebos. After the study ended, a follow-up was conducted for 1 year.
The participants were encouraged to try and reduce the number of smoked cigarettes by at least a half at 4 weeks and 75% at 8 weeks. At 15 weeks they were expected to completely give up smoking, or at least try.
At 4 weeks, results showed that 47.1% of the participates under varenicline treatment managed to lower the number of smoked cigarettes by at least half in comparison to the placebo group where only 31.1% managed to reach this target.
By week 8, 26.3% of the people in the varenicline group reached the 75% reduction target in comparison to the 15.1% of people on placebos.
As the research came to its final target, the quitting stage (between week 15 and 24) 32.1% of the participants treated with the trial drug managed to become abstinent while in the placebo group, only 6.9% reached this goal.
So, this new drug might actually have a shot at helping smokers become abstinent. Research is still ongoing as there is still room for perfecting this compound. There were some side effects that need to be looked into.
The study showed that 3.7 % of participants who were under varenicline therapy experienced some adverse effect like constipation and weight gain. These effects however can appear during the first stages of nicotine abstinence so more data needs to be obtained regarding this matter.
Image Source: Smoker News World