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Updated 16 October 2013

Anti-smoking drugs don't increase suicide risk

People who take anti-smoking drugs have no higher risk of depression or suicide than those who use nicotine replacement therapies to help them quit smoking.

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People who take anti-smoking drugs have no higher risk of depression or suicide than those who use nicotine replacement therapies to help them quit smoking, according to a new study.

Health officials in the United States and some other countries have issued safety warnings that the drugs Chantix (varenicline) and Zyban (bupropion) – which work by reducing nicotine cravings and withdrawal symptoms – may increase the risk of suicide.

"Given the concerns and accompanying safety warnings for these drugs these findings are reassuring for users and prescribers of smoking cessation medicines," study co-lead author Dr Kyla Thomas, of the University of Bristol, said in a university news release.

In the study, published online in the BMJ, researchers analyzed data from more than 119,000 British adults who used different types of products to help them quit smoking between September 2006 and October 2011. Of those patients, about 26% used Chantix, around 6% tried Zyban and more than two-thirds used nicotine replacement therapies, such as patches and gum.

There was no clear evidence that people who took Chantix or Zyban were more likely to experience depression or suicidal behaviour than those who used nicotine replacement therapies, the researchers concluded.

More information

The American Cancer Society offers a guide to quitting smoking.

 
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