Smokers, Your Metabolism Might Tell You Which Smoking Cessation Product Will Best Help You Quit

Smokers, if you are trying to quit smoking, researchers say that they can help you choose which smoking cessation product to use based on your metabolism. There are 42 million smokers in the U.S., and 70 percent of the smokers who try to quit smoking fail within the first seven days. Researchers from multiple sites in North America teamed up on a study that they say is the first of its kind.

The team consisted of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, the University of Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Health, the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and the State University of New York.

Previous studies looked at various smoking cessation treatments that smokers tried to use to quit the habit and their relationship with metabolism, according to Medical News Today. What makes this new paper — which was published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine — different is that the study’s smoking participants’ metabolisms were examined prior to attempting to quit smoking.

The study involved over 1,200 smokers who wanted to quit smoking. The researchers reached this number after filtering out smokers with certain mental or physical illnesses and medications that might be contraindicated to the two smoking cessation programs the study examined. All smokers included in the study had to have smoked at least 10 cigarettes a day for six months, and they had to have had a baseline carbon monoxide reading greater than 10 ppm to be included in the metabolism study.

Then, their metabolisms were tested, and the smokers were separated into a “slow metabolizers” group of smokers and a “normal metabolizers” group of smokers. Medical News Today explained how the team determined which group each smoker belonged to.

“To distinguish between ‘slow’ or ‘normal,’ the researchers took blood samples from the participants and examined the ratio of two metabolites that are derived from nicotine during smoking. This ratio is reflective of the activity of the major nicotine and cotinine-metabolizing enzyme in the liver – CYP2A6 – which helps smokers to metabolize nicotine.”

Then, smokers of each group were randomly selected to receive either the nicotine patches and placebo pills or pills of varenicline and placebo patches. Control groups consisting of both types of metabolizers went home with both fake pills and fake nicotine patches. All of the smokers who wanted to quit smoking also were given counseling.

In the end, the researchers found out that metabolisms of smokers did affect which smoking cessation product was best suited for them individually, according to the Lancet paper.

“Treating normal metabolisers with varenicline and slow metabolisers with nicotine patch could optimise quit rates while minimising side-effects.”

“This is a much-needed, genetically-informed biomarker that could be translated into clinical practice,” Dr. Caryn Lerman, the lead author, said. “Matching a treatment choice based on the rate at which smokers metabolize nicotine could be a viable strategy to help guide choices for smokers and ultimately improve quit rates. These findings not only support the use of the nicotine metabolite ratio as a biomarker to guide treatment choices, but also underscore the notion that tobacco dependence is a heterogeneous condition and that smoking cessation treatments are not equally effective for all smokers.”

In much stranger news involving smoking, the American Chemical Society recently announced new research which demonstrates that discarded cigarette ashes can be used to create filters to remove arsenic from drinking water.

Smokers, if you knew that testing your metabolism could help improve your odds of quitting smoking, would you give it a try?

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