By Alexa Lardieri, Deputy US Health Editor Dailymail.Com
00:26 02 January 2024, updated 00:26 02 January 2024
- Cytisine has been widely used in Europe and Canada as a smoking cessation aid
- It is a natural organic compound found in plants
- READ MORE: Ex-smokers should be screened for lung cancer regularly
Herbal products could be the best option for more than just diet – going the natural route can also help you quit smoking for good.
Cytisine is a natural organic compound found in several different plant species.
Studies have shown it to be useful in getting people to quit smoking and it is already sold in some countries as a smoking cessation aid.
People looking to quit their bad habit take several cytisine tablets, marketed under different brands in several countries, every day for up to two months.
And studies have shown that this method could be twice as effective as traditional methods for quitting smoking.
The compound was first synthesized in Bulgaria in 1964 as Tabex, a smoking cessation aid. In the years that followed, it spread to neighboring countries in Europe and Asia where it is still sold today.
In 2017, Polish pharmaceutical company Aflofarm sold cytisine under the name Desmoxan, available by prescription only, and Canada approved the over-the-counter version Cravv.
But even though researchers say low-cost cytisine could be a game-changer in getting people to quit smoking, the substance still hasn’t been approved in the United States and other countries where smoking is a burden important for public health.
A meta-analysis published in the journal Addiction in October 2023 found that cytisine more than doubles the chances of successfully quitting smoking compared to a placebo.
It has been shown to be safe and has no serious side effects.
Additional evidence, although limited, has also shown that it may even be more effective than traditional nicotine replacement cessation aids.
Lead author Dr Omar De Santi said: “Our study strengthens the evidence that cytisine is an effective and inexpensive aid for smoking cessation.” This could be very useful in reducing smoking in countries (low- and middle-income) where cost-effective smoking cessation medications are urgently needed.
“Across the world, tobacco use is considered the leading cause of preventable death. Cytisine has the potential to be one of the big answers to this problem.
The meta-analysis looked at eight studies involving 6,000 people comparing cytisine to a placebo. The combined results showed the superior effectiveness of the substance compared to currently approved methods.
The analysis also focused on two studies comparing cytisine and nicotine substitutes. “Modest” results were obtained in favor of the compound.
In the United States, currently approved smoking cessation aids include nicotine replacement skin patches, chewing gum, and lozenges, all available over the counter.
Prescription treatments include nicotine spray and a nicotine inhaler.
There are also two approved cessation aids that do not contain nicotine and are available by prescription only: bupropion hydrochloride, which helps you quit smoking by reducing withdrawal symptoms, and varenicline tartrate, which helps you quit smoking by reducing withdrawal symptoms. stop smoking by blocking the effects of nicotine on the brain.
One of the main obstacles to cytisine approval in the United States is financial.
For new medical products or drugs to be approved and sold in the United States, a pharmaceutical company must support them.
But because cytisine occurs in nature, there is no way for a drugmaker to patent this compound.
This reduces the financial incentive for a manufacturer to support a drug through the U.S. approval process, which is extremely expensive and time-consuming.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that IIn 2021, 11.5% of American adults smoked, or 28.3 million people.
While this remains a concern among health experts, it is a decline from nearly two decades ago.
In 2005, about 20 percent of American adults smoked.
Men are slightly more likely to smoke than women, with 13 percent of men and 10 percent of women reporting having ever smoked.
The CDC estimates that smoking costs the United States approximately $600 billion annually, including $240 billion in health care costs and $372 billion in lost productivity.
Smoking remains the leading cause of lung cancer and lung cancer is the second most common cancer.
It is also the leading cause of cancer death in the United States, accounting for one in five cancer deaths.
In 2023, the American Cancer Society estimates there will be 238,000 new cases of lung cancer and 127,000 deaths from lung cancer.
Lung cancer rates have been trending downward since the 1980s, amid increased awareness of the health risks posed by cigarettes.
There were around 65 new cases of lung cancer per 100,000 people in 1992 and by 2019 this had fallen to around 42.
In some parts of the United States, such as New York, smoking has now virtually disappeared.
Additional research has shown that smoking also has a detrimental effect on the heart.
A 2022 study of 4,000 people found that cigarettes make the heart thicker and weaker, causing strain when trying to pump blood through the body.
And the more a person smokes, the worse their heart functions.