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Tailored Therapy May Help More Stop Smoking

People who metabolize nicotine slowly may need to wear nicotine patch longer, researchers say

TUESDAY, April 20 (HealthDay News) -- New research suggests that a set length of time for using the nicotine patch may not work for all smokers trying to kick the habit.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have already discovered that some people -- about three-quarters of smokers -- break down (metabolize) nicotine more quickly from the patches than other people do. These people may do better by taking drugs like bupropion (Zyban).

And in the new study, researchers found that people who metabolized nicotine slowly did better if they used the nicotine patch for six months compared to slow metabolizers who were placed on the patch for only two months, followed by six months on a placebo (dummy) patch.

After six months there was no difference between the two groups.

While extended therapy helps people stay off tobacco and recover from lapses, "it only works as long as people are on it," noted Caryn Lerman, deputy director of the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania, in a press release. "Those data lead to the compelling question of whether some smokers should be on nicotine patch therapy for the long term."

She said some patients may need to take treatment longer than the current recommended standard of two months.

The study is scheduled for release Tuesday at the American Association of Cancer Research's annual meeting in Washington D.C.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about quitting smoking.

-- Randy Dotinga

SOURCE: University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, press release, April 20, 2010.

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