Study says pills and patch effective way to stop smoking

A new study published in JAMA from Stellenbosch University in Cape Town, South Africa, suggests that combining the use of both pills and the patch is the most effective way to quit smoking. These findings contradict other previous research that dismissed combining both as a sound treatment.

For this study, researchers used 446 people from seven health care centers around South Africa between April 2011 and October 2012. Participants randomly received either fake or real nicotine patches to begin wearing two weeks proper to their chosen quit date. A week before using the patch, participants began taking the pill varenicline—and continued taking it for three months. Varenicline works by activating the same brain receptors nicotine does.

Researchers analyzed the amount of carbon monoxide in the participants’ breath to determine how long they abstained from tobacco. They found that 55 percent of participants who took the pill and real nicotine patch didn’t smoke for 12 weeks, compared to 41 percent of participants who took the pill and the fake patch. After following up at 24 weeks, the participants with the real patch and pills were 49 percent smoke-free, compared to the other group with 33 percent smoke-free.

One researcher noted the successful quit rate of combining treatments may be attributed to a greater saturation of nicotine brain receptors and reducing cravings compared to one treatment. However, scientists also acknowledged that further studies are needed to determine the safety and effectiveness of using both products.

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