According to a study in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research, the smoking cessation treatment varenicline is more effective for women in short and immediate outcomes compared to men, but is equally effective for both with longer outcomes. Typically, women have lower rates of smoking cessation with other therapies such as buproprion and nicotine replacement vs. men.

A total of 17 studies that were low-bias, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials on 6,710 smokers (34%) were identified and reviewed; the six primary endpoints were seven-day point-prevelance (PP) and continuous-abstinence (CA) at week 12, week 24, and week 52. Women were less likely than men to quit smoking with placebo, but similar rates of abstinence were seen for all outcomes in men vs. women with varenicline at PP-12. Varenicline demonstrated greater efficacy among women compared to men for short and immediate outcomes (PP-12, CA-12, CA-24) and was 34% and 31% more effective for CA-12 and CA-24 for women, respectively, for continuous abstinence.

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This research is the first demonstration that women have similar rates of smoking cessation to men with use of varenicline regarding longer-term outcomes but greater short and immediate outcomes. Sherry McKee, lead researcher of Yale’s Specialized Center of Research and the study’s lead author, added that sex differences in the nicotine receptor system in the brain may be a key factor.

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