A recently published study has found that women may find it harder to stop smoking in comparison to men, especially on the first day after quitting. The study was conducted by researchers at the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, and its findings were published in the “Addictive Behaviors” journal.
In a press release, João Mauricio Castaldelli-Maia, the first author of the study, stated that a successful first day of abstinence was an important predictor for long-term success when it came to smoking cessation, noting that not much was known about why women found this period more challenging in comparison to men. Castaldellia-Maia, a postdoctoral fellow in the department of epidemiology at Columbia, explained that withdrawal syndrome, which most smokers cite as the primary reason for relapse because it usually presents on day one of abstinence, probably played a key role in quitting attempt outcomes among women, who reported more symptoms of withdrawal than men.
For their study, the researchers used data from the Global Adult Tobacco Survey of 2008–12, which included more than 16,000 smokers from various middle- and low-income countries, including Vietnam, Bangladesh, Ukraine, Brazil, Turkey, China, Thailand, Egypt, Russia, India, Mexico and Indonesia. Estimates show that roughly 60% of the world’s smokers live in these countries. In general, one-day relapses in these countries range between 3% and 14%.
The researchers found that larger warning labels about the health hazards of smoking that were printed on cigarette boxes could improve the odds of experiencing a one-day relapse, noting that these graphic warning labels were linked to decreased odds of day-one relapses among women. Silvia Martins, the study’s senior author and a professor of epidemiology at Columbia, explained that women were more likely to believe these highly visible labels, in comparison to male smokers; the labels may bring out more negative emotions and a higher motivation to stop smoking.
However, less than one-half of the countries included in the Global Adult Tobacco Survey have implemented these health-hazard warnings on cigarette packs.
The researchers also found that compared to men, women were more likely to be encouraged to try and quit smoking by health concerns such as pregnancy.
In their report, Martins and Castaldelli-Maia noted that psychotherapy and medications could help improve the chance of successfully quitting smoking. They cited studies in high-income countries which showed that women received less pharmacological treatment, despite seeking treatment more often.
However, there may be light at the end of the tunnel when one considers the fact that several entities, including Mydecine Innovations Group Inc. (NEO: MYCO) (OTC: MYCOF), are focused on developing next-gen therapeutics targeting addiction and other indications whose treatment needs aren’t currently being met.
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