Reducing drinking could help with smoking cessation, research finds

December 27, 2018

CORVALLIS, Ore. – If quitting smoking is one of your New Year’s resolutions, you might want to consider cutting back on your drinking, too.

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새해에 금연 결심?..."그러면 술부터 줄여야"

   새해에 금연을 결심했다면 술부터 줄이는 것이 좋겠다.

미국 오레곤 주립 대학교 연구진이 알코올 남용 장애 치료를 받는 환자 중 흡연자 22명을 분석한 결과, 음주량을 줄이면 니코틴 대사 속도가 더뎌지는 것으로 나타났다.

니코틴의 대사 속도는 대사율(Nicotine Metabolite Ratio)로 측정하는데 이 수치가 높은 사람, 즉 니코틴 대사가 빠른 사람은 더딘 사람과 비교할 때 흡연량이 많고 담배를 끊는 데 더 큰 어려움을 겪는다. 게다가 이런 사람들은 니코틴 대용제를 사용하더라도 금연에 성공할 가능성이 작다.

이번 연구를 주도한 새라 더모디 교수는 “그동안 니코틴 대사율은 좀처럼 변하지 않는 안정적인 지표로 알려졌으나, 이번 연구에서 그렇지 않은 것으로 나타났다”면서 “술이 니코틴 대사 속도에 영향을 주기 때문에 금연을 하려면 흡연뿐 아니라, 음주 습관도 동시에 고려해야 한다”고 말했다.

미국에서 성인 다섯 중 하나는 담배도 피우고, 술도 마신다. 특히 술꾼일수록 담배를 더 피우는 경향이 있다. 연구진은 음주는 흡연을 유발하는 위험 요인이고, 흡연은 음주를 부르는 위험 요인이라고 지적했다.

이번 연구(Changes in Nicotine Metabolite Ratio among Daily Smokers receiving Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder )는 ‘니코틴과 담배 연구(Nicotine & Tobacco Research)’ 저널에 실렸다.

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New research has found that heavy drinkers who are trying to stop smoking may find that reducing their alcohol use can also help them quit their daily smoking habit. Heavy drinkers’ nicotine metabolite ratio – a biomarker that indicates how quickly a person’s body metabolizes nicotine – reduced as they cut back on their drinking.

Past research has suggested that people with higher nicotine metabolism ratios are likely to smoke more and that people with higher rates have a harder time quitting. Slowing a person’s nicotine metabolism rate through reduced drinking could provide an edge when trying to stop smoking, which is known to be a difficult task, said Sarah Dermody, an assistant professor at Oregon State University and the study’s lead author.

“It takes a lot of determination to quit smoking, often several attempts,” Dermody said. “This research suggests that drinking is changing the nicotine metabolism as indexed by the nicotine metabolite ratio, and that daily smoking and heavy drinking may best be treated together.”

The study was just published in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research.

Dermody, who is based in in the School of Psychological Science in OSU’s College of Liberal Arts, studies risky behaviors such as alcohol and nicotine use with the goal of better understanding factors that contribute to alcohol and nicotine use and how best to intervene with problematic use of these substances.

Use of both alcohol and cigarettes is widespread, with nearly 1 in 5 adults using both. Cigarette use is especially prevalent in heavy drinkers. Drinking is a well-established risk factor for smoking, and smoking is well-established risk factor for drinking.

Dermody and colleagues at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, Canada, wanted to better understand the links between the two. They studied the nicotine metabolite ratio, an index of nicotine metabolism, in a group of 22 daily smokers who were seeking treatment for alcohol use disorder – the medical term for severe problem drinking – over several weeks.

“What’s really interesting is that the nicotine metabolite ratio is clinically useful,” Dermody said. “People with a higher ratio have a harder time quitting smoking cold turkey. They have are also less likely to successfully quit using nicotine replacement therapy products.”

They found that as the men in the study group reduced their drinking – from an average of 29 drinks per week to 7 – their nicotine metabolite rate also dropped.

The researchers’ findings for men replicated those of an earlier study that found similar effects and provide further evidence of the value of the nicotine metabolite ratio biomarker to inform treatment for smokers trying to quit, Dermody said.

“The nicotine metabolite ratio was thought to be a stable index, but it may not be as stable as we thought,” Dermody said. “From a clinical standpoint, that’s a positive thing, because if someone wants to stop smoking, we may want to encourage them to reduce their drinking to encourage their smoking cessation plan.”

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The women in the study did not see reductions in their nicotine metabolite ratio, but the researchers also did not find that the women in the study reduced their drinking significantly during the study period.

“The rate of drinking for women in the study started low and stayed low,” Dermody said. “I anticipate that in a larger generalized study we would not see the difference between men and women like that.”

Dermody is preparing a new study of the links between smoking and drinking. She hopes to recruit heavy drinkers who also smoke to participate in an intervention to reduce their drinking. The study will also examine the effects on smoking to try and replicate the findings in a larger group.

“This research is demonstrating the value in addressing both smoking and drinking together,” she said. “The question now is how best to do that.”


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