Nicotine Metabolism Rate Gives Clue as to how to Quit Smoking

A smoker's nicotine metabolite ratio may give a clue as to what methods he or she should use to quit smoking, according to researchers.

A smoker’s nicotine metabolite ratio (NMR) may give a clue as to what methods he or she should use to quit smoking, according to researchers.

Findings published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine posited that the NMR 3’-hydroxycotinine:cotinine could predict smokers’ response to the patch or prescription pills in their quest to stop smoking.

The researchers examined 1246 patients, of which 662 were slow metabolizers of nicotine and 584 were normal metabolizers of nicotine. The subjects’ NMR was determined through a blood test within 7 days of treatment.

The patients were randomly split into 3 groups: 408 received a placebo, 418 used the patch, and 420 took varenicline (Chantix) during an 11-week program. During this time, the patients also received behavioral counseling.

For normal metabolizers, Chantix was the most effective in helping patients stop smoking. For slow metabolizers, however, the researchers suggested the patch would work better for quitting, as there were more side effects reported while using Chantix.

“Treating normal metabolizers with varenicline and slow metabolizers with the nicotine patch could optimize quit rates while minimizing side effects,” the study authors concluded.

At the 6- and 12-month check-ins, the subjects’ quit rates had decreased, and the researchers suggested that smokers try extending their treatment beyond 11 weeks to see a better chance at more prolonged smoking cessation.