New research from the Yale School of Medicine suggests the prescription drug Chantix initially helps women more than men when using the medicine to stop smoking. For the study, researchers examined clinical trial data on more than 6,700 people who used Chantix to try and quit smoking. Not adjusting for other factors, the study found that Chantix produced similar rates of smoking cessation for men and women; specifically, a 53% quit rate after 3 months.
A HealthDay news release notes that the trials were placebo-controlled, which is important because a number of studies suggest that women are less likely than men to quit while taking a placebo, therefore skewing the results of the study. After taking the weaker placebo effect for women into consideration, the researchers adjusted the data and found that Chantix was 46% more effective in boosting the odds of quitting for women versus men after 3 months of treatment.
In addition, after 6 months, the drug was still 31% more effective at maintaining complete abstinence among women than men, according to HealthDay. The study’s results also showed that after a year, the anti-smoking drug worked equally well for men and women.
“Studies show that women have a harder time quitting smoking than men, even as quitting has shown greater benefits to women’s cardiovascular and respiratory health,” says Sherry McKee, PhD, lead researcher of Yale’s Specialized Center of Research, in a university news release.
McKee adds, “With this first comprehensive analysis of sex differences in the effectiveness of this drug, now women and their health care providers can better decide how to successfully quit and live longer, healthier lives. While it’s clear that sex differences in varenicline [Chantix] efficacy exist, we don’t yet know why varenicline is particularly effective for women.”
The researchers noted that it is possible that sex differences in the nicotine receptor system of the brain may help explain why Chantix is initially more effective for women.