Study: Quitting smoking ‘harder for women’

Posted at 10:54 AM, May 31, 2012
and last updated 2012-05-31 10:54:19-04

A study at Yale University found that there is a gender divide when it comes to smoking.  Physically the female receives nicotine differently than the male brain, and researchers say that needs to be factored into smoking cessation programs.

It comes down to the number of nicotine receptors in the brain.

Kelly Cosgrove, with the Yale University School of Medicine, explained that if you compare the brains of a male smoker versus a male non-smoker, there is a vast difference in the neural receptors of each.

However, this is not the case with women. There is virtually no difference in the neural receptors of female non-smokers versus smokers.

Therefore the author of the study found that women smoke for different reasons than men, and find it harder to quit.

The study said that men smoke to get a rush of actual nicotine, and that their neural receptors are more affected by the nicotine.

“Women tend to smoke more for the sensory aspects of smoking, such as the inhalation and to reduce stress and regulate negative affects,” said Cosgrove in an interview with Al Jazeera.

This research would indicate that tobacco replacement therapies such as patches and gum don’t work as well for women as they do for men—and that women need more tools to quit smoking.

Experts say that this research should be utilized to develop a well-rounded strategy for quitting smoking, that includes exercise, relaxation techniques and perhaps behavioral therapies.

Women’s Health Research at Yale also discovered that gender-specific success in attempts to quit smoking is dually affected by the type of smoking cessation intervention and by the phase of the menstrual cycle in which a quit attempt occurs.