March 22, 2010 -- Combining a smoking-cessation medication with behavioral
therapy that emphasizes weight management is effective in helping women abstain
from smoking, according to a new study.
Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center found that
taking the smoking-cessation drug Zyban while participating in a
behavioral therapy program that addressed weight gain improved
smoking-cessation rates consistently over a period of six months and led to
longer periods until relapse.
There were 349 women in the study, divided into four groups:
Zyban plus weight-focused counseling
Zyban plus standard counseling
Placebo plus weight-focused counseling
Placebo plus standard counseling
The study, published in the March 22 issue of Archives of Internal
Medicine, shows that:
Overall, 31.8% of the women had abstained from smoking after three months,
21.8% after six months, and 16.3% after one year.
Among women receiving Zyban and undergoing weight-focused counseling, 40.6%
had abstained from smoking at three months compared with 18.4% of those taking
a placebo and receiving weight-focused counseling.
At six months, 34% of women receiving Zyban and weight-focused counseling
remained smoke-free compared with 11.5% of the placebo and weight-focused
At 12 months, 23.6% of the Zyban patients remained smoke-free vs. 8.1% of
patients receiving a placebo and weight-focused counseling.
Patients getting Zyban plus weight-focused counseling were slower to
relapse, with a median of 266 days to relapse vs. 46 days for women getting a
placebo plus weight-focused counseling, the researchers reported.
The weight-focused behavioral therapy program proved to be critical to the
patients' success. The weight-focused and standard counseling interventions
both involved 12, 90-minute group therapy sessions over a three-month period.
On average, women attended almost three-fourths of all the counseling sessions.
Zyban or a placebo was taken over a six-month period.
Recent statistics from the CDC show that nearly 19% of adult women living in
the United States smoke.
Smoking causes the body to burn calories faster; metabolism often slows when
people quit. Weight gain is a significant concern to women who want to kick the
habit and is often cited as a top reason for being unable to quit. According to
the National Institutes of Health, smokers who do gain weight after quitting
put on an average of 4 to 10 extra pounds.
"Many women smokers are concerned about the weight gain that commonly
accompanies an attempt to quit smoking," the researchers write. Future
research, they continued, should focus on the possible mechanisms behind this
treatment approach and address the potential of using among larger groups of