Naltrexone: The Anti-Smoking Drug With a Gender Bias

by Dr. Reeja Tharu on  January 12, 2013 at 1:42 PM Health Watch   - G J E 4
Naltrexone, the drug with the potential to double a man's chances to quit smoking, does not seem to help women in the same way, says a new study.
Naltrexone: The Anti-Smoking Drug With a Gender Bias
Naltrexone: The Anti-Smoking Drug With a Gender Bias

However, as a way of making up, naltrexone has the ability to bring down weight gain in women who have quit smoking although it does not have any effect in bringing down post-smoking bulge in men.

According to researcher Andrea King, who is a clinical psychologist and addiction expert, the findings are very confusing as the benefits of the naltrexone are very distinct in both the genders.

Naltrexone is an opioid blocker that has long been used in the management of alcohol and heroin addiction. Being a prescription drug, it is already in the arsenal kit of doctors and is being recommended for various reasons in men and women.

The study was carried out on 700 smokers who were using tobacco patches during the study period. After using the drug for a 12-week period, the chances of men giving up the killer weed increased from a mere 17 % to 30 %. The percentage of additional women quitting smoking was negligible.

However, the women who were on naltrexone gained an average weight of just over one kilogram after the trial period which lasted three months. Women who were not given the drug had a weight gain of two kilograms (double) approximately.

After a period of six months, the women who were given naltrexone had gained 40 per cent less weight on an average than their counterparts. After a year, this dropped to 20%.

Women are not too ready to quit smoking; the main reason behind this being weight gain post quitting. Naltrexone may be seen as a weapon against weight gain in women. Although there have been other drugs that have delayed weight gain in women who quit smoking, no other drug showed its weight loss effects even after months of weaning off it.

In the case of men, naltrexone helps tremendously in getting them to quit smoking but does little to prevent weight gain. The researchers have no explanation regarding this gender disparity. They believe that hormones or other psychological factors could be playing a role in the functioning of the drug.

The results of the study appear in the December issue of the journal†Biological Psychiatry.

Source: Medindia

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