Volume 93, Issue 89

Friday, March 17, 2000


Politically correct prof leads the way

Althouse College enrollment up

Drug tackles nicotine addiction

Province to hammer out teacher testing by June

Second-hand smoke linked to breast cancer

To stay healthy, don't get sick

Bass Ackwards

Caught on campus

Drug tackles nicotine addiction

By Joel Brown
Gazette Staff

University of Toronto researchers may have discovered a drug that helps smokers kick their habit.

The study has shown Methoxsalen inhibits the enzyme that metabolizes nicotine, which then reduces the need for people to smoke large quantities of cigarettes, said researcher Rachel Tyndale. She said the drug, in pill form, may help to keep cancer-causing agents in tobacco away from high risk areas of the body.

"The advantage to giving these types of pills, is that people would no longer need to associate their daily activities with smoking," Tyndale said. "You would no longer need a cigarette with your morning coffee or drive to work. People would have power and control over their behaviour."

Tyndale said research began in 1997, with the purpose of finding a method to reduce smoking. Two hundred men and 200 women were studied to find out why nicotine dependence varied between smokers. She said they found people with lower amounts of the gene CYP2A6, which produces the enzyme, did not crave cigarettes as much as those with normal or high levels of the gene.

Another study they conducted with 12 smokers, over a period of three days, slowed down the metabolism process which consumes nicotine. The participants reduced their regular consumption of cigarettes by 30 per cent.

Tyndale said the next step would be finding a medical company which could do more extensive research into the process and market the product.

"From my perspective anything that has the potential to stop smoking certainly is important to explore," said Carlo Mastrangelo, manager of public relations and communications at GlaxoWellcome, a pharmaceutical company. "Still, a person needs to be motivated to quit," he said.

Richard Garlick, director of communications for the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, said he was an advocate of quitting cold turkey. "Spontaneous quitting seems to be the most effective method to stop. Typically, after around a half-a-dozen attempts a person is usually successful," he said. "However, we have to recall some people don't have that type of will power."

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