Medicines help smokers quit long term, finds Cochrane overview of reviews

Key message: Varenicline, nicotine replacement therapy and bupropion all improve smokers’ chances of quitting long term, with a low risk of harms

Today is World No Tobacco Day, which seems a great day for the publication of new Cochrane evidence on medicines to help people quit smoking. Three medicines are licensed for this purpose in Europe and the USA and recommended in many national guidelines: nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), bupropion and varenicline. Cytisine is licensed in Russia and some other countries and other medicines, such as nortriptyline, have been tested. A new overview of reviews from a team at the Cochrane Tobacco Addiction Group has brought together results from Cochrane reviews on the effectiveness of medicines for helping adults to quit smoking for at least six months and on harms associated with them. Continue reading

Talking treatments for problem drinking and gambling: two new Cochrane reviews

Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies’ first annual report on the state of the nation’s health, published today, has highlighted the rising rates of liver disease, with deaths from chronic liver disease and cirrhosis in the under 65s having increased by around 20% between 2000 and 2009, yet falling by around the same amount in other European countries. The three major causes of liver disease – harmful drinking, obesity and undiagnosed infection – are preventable. With around 70% of us having two or more habits or medical risk factors that are linked with serious diseases, the report recommends that health professionals should focus on tackling these together. This was also recommended in a recent report from The King’s Fund, which looked at clustering of unhealthy behaviours and called for a shift in focus in public health initiatives, to tackling multiple unhealthy behaviours rather than single ones. Continue reading