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Omega-3 fatty acids cut tobacco craving


A report published on June 4, 2014 in the Journal of Psychopharmacologyreveals the outcome of a trial of orally administered eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) which uncovered a reduction in smoking and tobacco craving among those who received the supplements.

Forty-eight regular smokers were given 2710 mg EPA and 2040 mg DHA, or a placebo for one month. Tobacco craving and number of cigarettes smoked per day were assessed at the beginning of the trial, at the end of the treatment period and 30 days following the end of treatment.

Participants who received omega-3 fatty acids had significantly less craving for tobacco at the end of one month in comparison with initially assessed levels. Although craving rose in the month following the treatment period, it was still lower than that experienced initially among those who received EPA and DHA. In contrast, participants who received the placebo reported similar craving levels at all time points evaluated. Those who received omega-3 smoked 11.2% fewer cigarettes after one month in comparison to the amount smoked at the beginning of the study.

Author Sharon Rabinowitz of Haifa University notes that decreased intake of omega-3 fatty acids can affect dopamine neurotransmission, which negatively impacts the function of brain systems associated with reward and dependence. This decrease in function could enhance tobacco craving, making quitting more difficult.“

It is assumed that the re-establishment of polyunsaturated fatty acid levels in the current study reduced tobacco craving following cigarette cue exposure by affecting dopamine transmission compromised by smoking-induced lipid peroxidation,” Dr Rabinowitz writes. “Future studies should examine if polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation affects smok­ing behavior and its relation to subjective stress via polyunsaturated fatty acid serum bioavailability and metabolism and should attempt to determine the neural mechanisms that may have played a role in the decreased craving observed in this study.”

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