Sunday, November 9, 2014

Omega-3 supplements help reduce nicotine craving

A new study released by the University of Haifa shows that taking omega-3 supplements lowers the craving for nicotine and even reduces the number of cigarettes that people smoke in a day

"The findings of this study indicated that omega-3, an inexpensive and easily available dietary supplement with almost no side effects, reduces smoking significantly," said Dr Sharon Rabinovitz Shenkar

Cigarette smoking is already tied to cardiovascular dysfunction, immune system dysfunction and
omega-3 reduces nicotine craving
obviously cancer.  But did you know it also reduces the levels of essential fatty acids in the brain?

This current study used 48 smokers between the ages of 18 - 45.  The subjects were smoking at least 10 cigarettes a day and were at an average of 14.  They were diagnosed as having a "moderate" dependency on nicotine.  Sounds like addiction to me, but what do I know?  The smokers in the study had an average age of 29 and had all been smoking for at least 10 years.

The smokers were split into two groups.  One group got omega-3 capsules, the second group received a placebo.

The victims participants were asked to take 5 capsules a day for 30 days and at no time were they asked to stop smoking.  The levels of nicotine craving and consumption were checked using a series of scales regarding various aspects related to smoking urges, such as lack of control over tobacco use, anticipation of relief and satisfaction from smoking, and to the number of cigarettes smoked each day.

These levels were measured at the start of the study, then 30 days after the start of the treatment and then once more after 60 days.

During the study when the participants were tested, they had them abstain from smoking for 2 hours and then were exposed to smoking-related cues and images in order to fire up the cravings for nicotine.

The findings showed that while no difference was found between the groups at the beginning of the study, after thirty days the smokers who had taken omega-3 reduced their cigarettes by an average of two a day (an eleven-per cent decrease), even though they were not asked to change their smoking habits in any way.

After another 30 days of not taking anything, cigarette cravings did increase slightly but, and this is the important part, still remained significantly lower than at the initial level.

What this means is that the craving to smoke cigarettes did not return to the baseline original level even a month after not taking the supplement.

The researchers reported that the group receiving the placebo did not show any significant changes either way in their craving levels or in the number of cigarettes they smoked a day during the sixty days.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Menthol cigarettes may be even riskier - no safer than regular tobacco

(Reuters Health) - Menthol cigarettes might taste better than regular tobacco but are no safer and might lead to more severe lung problems, a new study suggests.

Smokers who reported using menthol cigarettes had more trips to the emergency room and more hospitalizations or treatment for severe worsening of their lung disease compared to people smoking regular tobacco, the study found.

These worsenings, or “exacerbations,” might include difficulty breathing or a major increase in phlegm that lasts for days.

“We were surprised that menthol smokers, compared to non-menthol cigarette smokers, reported more severe exacerbations and had a greater odds of experiencing severe exacerbations,” said Dr. Marilyn Foreman of the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia, one of the study authors, in an email to Reuters Health.

She and her colleagues compared 3,758 menthol smokers and 1,941 regular smokers, ages 45 to 80, who smoked at least 10 packs of cigarettes per year. The menthol smokers were slightly younger and more likely to be female and black, they found.

At first glance, it seemed that the menthol smokers had less chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and they were less likely to have chronic cough or chronic sputum production and less likely to use medications to help them breathe.

Overall, the two groups had similar frequencies of COPD exacerbations during the average 18-month period of the study, according to the report of the study in the journal Respirology.

But the menthol smokers had more frequent severe exacerbations: 0.22 per year, versus 0.18 per year among smokers of regular tobacco cigarettes.

The menthol smokers also did worse on a test of how far they could walk in six minutes, and they were more short of breath than people who smoked regular cigarettes.

When the researchers took other patient factors into account, such as age and other diseases, there were no longer any differences between the menthol and regular tobacco smokers in lung function, exercise capacity, or breathing problems.

There was still, however, a 29 percent higher risk of severe lung disease exacerbations with use of menthol cigarettes.

The researchers think menthol might have an anesthetic effect on the airways, and as a result, it might take longer to recognize that smokers’ lung disease is worsening, said Foreman.

She and her colleagues admit, though, that their study can’t prove menthol is responsible for making smokers’ lung problems worse.

“In general in the article, the people who smoked menthol cigarettes were different, younger, more likely to be African-American and female,” Dr. Sean Forsythe said in a phone interview with Reuters Health.  “So maybe the differences weren’t due to menthol but were due to the fact that the patients were different.”

Forsythe, who is division director of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Illinois, said that while exacerbations appeared to be worse for the menthol smokers, only a longer study could say for sure.

“That’s the type of thing where only following these patients for a year and a half is going to become a bit misleading,” said Forsythe, who wasn’t involved with Foreman’s study.  “If you’re looking for some of these bigger outcomes in the COPD world, maybe you need to follow them longer,” he added.

Foreman pointed out frequent exacerbations might end up having a long-term effect.

“Frequent exacerbations do affect quality of life and may result in greater loss of lung function over time,” said Foreman.

Both agreed the results send an important message to smokers.

“If one thinks that smoking menthol cigarettes is safer, that’s completely inaccurate,” said Forsythe.

It would be as if there were a group of people slowly poisoning themselves with arsenic and then you would compare if cherry flavored arsenic was safer.

“It’s still arsenic,” said Forsythe.

SOURCE: Respirology, October 19, 2014.