varenicline for smoking cessation

A new study looked at the effects of Varenicline tartrate on quitting smoking in combination with counselling sessions.

It’s no secret that smoking cigarettes is unhealthy.  Smoking damages the airways and the alveoli in the lungs and causes narrowing of the blood vessels.  It is associated with an increased risk of lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and stroke.  Over 480,000 deaths can be attributed to cigarette smoking annually in the United States, which accounts for almost 20 percent of deaths.

A large proportion of adult smokers take up the habit before the age of 21, which is why many campaigns preventing cigarette use are targeted at adolescents.  It is best to quit smoking as early as possible, so recent research has been focused on effective tactics for smoking cessation in youths.  Varenicline is a common medication used to treat nicotine addiction, and it is the first partial agonist of nicotine receptors on the market.  A recent study published in JAMA Pediatrics investigated the effects of varenicline for smoking cessation in adolescents.

The study group consisted of 157 cigarette smokers between the ages of 14 and 21 who were looking to quit the habit.  The experimental group, which included half the study group, received Varenicline treatment for 12 weeks, whereas the control group received a placebo.  Both groups participated in weekly counselling for smoking cessation.

Abstinence from smoking was confirmed by urine tests taken seven days following the end of the treatment period.  Moreover, participants reported their abstinence weekly throughout the treatment period as well as during sporadic follow-up visits after the treatment period.  Any adverse effects that could have occurred as a result of the treatment were recorded.  Finally, the time it took to achieve a seven-day period of complete cigarette abstinence was recorded.

There was no difference in abstinence seven days after the treatment period between experimental and control groups.  There was also no difference in short-term adverse effects between groups.  However, the experimental group achieved a seven-day abstinence period sooner than the control group on average.  Additionally, the experimental group had greater rates of weekly self-reported cigarette abstinence than the control group.

This study suggests that Varenicline could help young cigarette smokers quit the habit faster.  It also suggests that the drug has minimal short-term adverse health effects on youths.  More research is needed to confirm these results as well as determine any adverse long-term health effects that could arise from taking Varenicline.

 

Written by Avery Bisbee

 

References:

Gray, K. M., Baker, N. L., & McClure, E. A., et al. (2019). Efficacy and Safety of Varenicline for Adolescent Smoking Cessation: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Pediatrics. doi: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2019.3553

Clinical trial tests varenicline to help adolescents, young adults quit smoking. (n.d.). Retrieved October 15, 2019, from https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-10/jn-ctt101019.php.

Health Effects of Cigarette Smoking | CDC. (n.d.). Retrieved October 15, 2019, from https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/health_effects/effects_cig_smoking/index.htm.

Varenicline. (n.d.). Retrieved October 15, 2019, from https://www.drugbank.ca/drugs/DB01273.

 

Image by Lindsay Fox from Pixabay

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