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Many smokers do not achieve abstinence using current smoking cessation options. This randomized controlled trial (RCT) investigated a novel nutritional supplement to assist with quitting smoking.
Following a baseline phase where cigarettes per day and nicotine dependence were measured, participants (n = 107) were randomized to placebo (n = 50) or micronutrient conditions (n = 57). A 4-week pre-quit phase permitted titration up to 12 capsules/day. During the quit phase (12 weeks), participants were registered with a public Quitline while consuming micronutrients or placebo. Carbon monoxide levels were measured to confirm smoking cessation.
Forty-five (42%) participants completed the trial. Treatment and placebo groups did not differ on the primary outcome of continuous abstinence at 12 weeks using intention-to-treat analysis; however, 28% of the micronutrient-treated group had quit versus 18% for placebo (odds ratio [OR] = 1.78, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.71 to 4.48), with number needed to treat = 10. Comparison of cigarette consumption (cigarettes per day) between micronutrient and placebo groups showed that those taking micronutrients reported reduced consumption throughout the trial, notably at pre-quit weeks 1 and 4, and at quit phase week 4. There were no serious adverse events, blinding was successful, and there were no substantive group differences in side effects or dropout rate.
This is the first RCT investigating the impact of micronutrients on smoking reduction, finding that micronutrients reduced harm through reduction in number of cigarettes smoked relative to placebo. The small sample and high dropout rate limit confidence in the conclusions and generalizability of the study; however, assessed by number needed to treat, micronutrients are comparable to other smoking cessation treatments but with fewer side effects. Future research using larger and longer trials including cost-effectiveness and biomarker measures is encouraged.
Micronutrients are being increasingly studied for the treatment of psychiatric conditions, but direct application of micronutrients as a treatment for addictions is novel. There is extensive evidence that micronutrients alleviate stress. Given that tobacco smoking is often used to cope with stress, taking micronutrients may moderate the stress of withdrawal and increase the chance of a successful quit attempt. This study is the first known RCT to investigate the use of micronutrients to support smoking cessation. Treatments that are safe, effective, relatively inexpensive, and readily available are needed and micronutrient supplements offer one such possible alternative.
Novel Mineral–Vitamin Treatment for Reduction in Cigarette Smoking: A Fully Blinded Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial
Phillipa K Reihana, Neville M Blampied, Julia J Rucklidge. Nicotine Tob Res. 2019 Oct 26;21(11):1496-1505.