University of Toronto Magazine University of Toronto Magazine

The Skinny on Smoking Less

New research in nicotine addiction

Researchers have discovered that a skin medication can actually improve the effectiveness of oral nicotine replacement and reduce the urge to smoke. Smokers need to maintain concentrated levels of nicotine in their blood to prevent the discomfort of withdrawal, and many trying to quit use nicotine replacement – a patch or gum – to maintain nicotine levels. The drug methoxsalen, used in tablet form to treat skin disorders, works by reducing the metabolism of nicotine. Participants who took methoxsalen along with nicotine replacement in a study conducted by Dr. Edward Sellers, professor of pharmacology, medicine and psychiatry, reported far less desire to smoke.n In addition, they had fewer cigarettes and when they did light up they took shorter and fewer puffs. Methoxsalen has not yet been proven safe for long-term use and requires further studies before being used as a smoking-cessation treatment, says Sellers. Nonetheless, the research opens up an exciting new way to help smokers reduce their exposure to the deadly particles in tobacco smoke while overcoming their nicotine addiction.

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