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Medications Combined with Patches Effective for Smoking Cessation

Update Date: Jul 09, 2014 10:48 AM EDT

Smoking is the number one leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Numerous studies have tied smoking to an increased risk of developing health conditions, such as lung cancer. Even though people are aware of the dangers involved with smoking, quitting can be a daunting task. In a new study, researchers discovered that combining medication with nicotine patches could be highly effective.

For this study, the researchers from South Africa recruited 435 smokers. The participants were randomly divided into two groups. In the first group, the smokers tried to quit by taking the prescription drug, varenicline in combination with the nicotine patch. In the other group, the smokers used the drug with a placebo patch.

After six months, the researchers found that smokers who took varenicline and nicotine patches helped increase the quitting rate to 49 percent. The smokers who used this combination were almost two times more likely to avoid smoking after the six months were over when compared to the smokers who took the pill with a fake patch.

"We found that in relatively healthy smokers, the odds of achieving successful smoking cessation after 12 and 24 weeks were significantly increased by using a combination of varenicline and nicotine patches compared to varenicline alone," Dr. Coenraad Koegelenberg, lead author of the study from Stellenbosch University in Cape Town, said according to USA Today.

He added, reported by TIME, "The efficacy of combining the two drugs cannot be readily explained."

The researchers believe that future studies could examine the effectiveness of combination therapy with other types of smoking cessation tools. The study, "Efficacy of Varenicline Combined With Nicotine Replacement Therapy vs Varenicline Alone for Smoking Cessation," was published in JAMA.

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