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Study: Medicines, frequent counseling helps cancer patients quit smoking

Oct. 13 (UPI) — A program that included telephone counseling sessions and one of two smoking cessation drugs was 50% more effective than telephone consultations alone at helping cancer patients quit smoking, a study published Tuesday by JAMA found.

Among cancer patients who underwent treatment with four bi-weekly and three monthly counseling sessions by telephone and either bupropion, marketed as Wellbutrin, or varenicline, marketed as Chantix, for up to six months, 35% were able to successfully quit smoking, the data showed.

But only 22% of the cancer patients who underwent treatment with the telephone counseling sessions had successfully quit after six months, according to the researchers.

“Counseling plus medication is the state-of-the art tobacco treatment for cancer patients,” study co-author Elyse R. Park told UPI.

“Smoking cessation assistance should be an integral part of cancer care and sustained tobacco support can be effective for cancer patients who smoke,” said Park, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

More than 34 million adults in the United States smoke, and some 16 million are living with smoking-related diseases, including cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Up to 20% of cancer survivors continue to smoke, despite the fact that quitting improves prognosis with the disease, research suggests.

For their study, Park and her colleagues evaluated smoking cessation treatment programs in 303 adults recently diagnosed with breast, gastrointestinal, genitourinary, gynecological, head and neck, lung, lymphoma or melanoma cancers.

Roughly half — 153 — underwent “intensive” treatment for smoking, with telephone counseling and their choice of bupropion or varenicline, with the rest receiving “standard” care, with telephone counseling only, for up to six months, the researchers said.

Both bupropion and varenicline have been approved for smoking cessation treatment by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The most common adverse events in the two treatment groups were nausea, rash, hiccups, mouth irritation, difficulty sleeping and vivid dreams, and all were more common in the patients who received “intensive” care, the researchers said.

“Nausea is a side effect of varenicline, so [its use] should be monitored for patients who are experiencing nausea from their cancer treatment,” Park said.

In addition, patients on tamoxifen for breast cancer should not take bupropion, or receive a reduced dose, because of interactions between the two drugs, she said.

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Parents less aware of their kids vaping than smoking, study says

Parents and guardians are less likely to know or suspect when their children vape or use other tobacco products than they are when they smoke cigarettes, the study, published in Pediatrics, said.

About 70% of the parents and guardians of children who smoke reported being aware or suspecting it. For kids who use e-cigarettes, the percentage is about 40%, the study said.

“When parents think about tobacco, many will picture smoking a cigarette but other tobacco and nicotine products may not come to mind,” said Dr. Benjamin Chaffee, a senior author of the study and associate professor at University of California San Francisco School of Dentistry.

“E-cigarettes, in particular, may look like a tech device and don’t produce a lasting odor.”

Other types of tobacco products more likely to go unnoticed are non-cigarette combustible products or smokeless tobacco. Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, according to the CDC.

“Any tobacco or nicotine use by children is concerning,” Chaffee told CNN. “Any product that delivers nicotine has a high risk of addiction. Nicotine exposure is particularly concerning for adolescents, whose brains are still developing.”

Vaping is an epidemic

Two years ago, US Surgeon General Jerome Adams declared vaping among young people an “epidemic.”
In 2020, 3.02 million high school students and 550,000 middle school students reported being current users of e-cigarettes, according to data from the 2020 National Youth Tobacco Survey analyzed by the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the US Food and Drug Administration.
So you want to quit vaping? Read this to do it for good
During the coronavirus pandemic, the correlation between smoking and vaping and higher risk of severe Covid-19 cases has also been investigated.
In August, lawmakers asked the FDA to clear the market of all e-cigarettes for the duration of the crisis, citing concerns about vapers as young as 13.

Parents and awareness

The UCSF study used nationally representative data from the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health Study, and tracked more than 23,000 young people between the ages of 12 and 17.

Parents and guardians were more likely to know or suspect their child uses tobacco or nicotine products if the child was older, male, White and lived with a tobacco user, according to the study.

The study also found that parents with lower levels of education were more likely to know or suspect their child uses tobacco or nicotine products. Mothers were identified as being more aware than fathers.

The study was conducted before the 2019 outbreak of vaping-related lung injuries, which Chaffee said may have raised awareness about the dangers of vaping for young users.

The role of household rules

Another focus of the study, along with parental awareness, was the role of household rules in connection with tobacco use.

Children living in homes with stricter rules around tobacco use for kids and adults, as well as visitors, guests and workers, were 20% to 26% less likely to start using tobacco, the study reported.

US e-cigarette sales rose by nearly 300%, says a new CDC report

“Parents are role models for their kids,” Chaffee said. “The first thing parents can do is not use tobacco products