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Can a vaccine help you quit smoking?

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Quick Answer

A 2007 research study using the NicVac vaccine demonstrated effectiveness for helping people to quit smoking, reports WebMD. This study found that the vaccine was almost three times more effective than a placebo for helping smokers to quit smoking for a 12 month period.

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Full Answer

The NicVac vaccine works by causing an increased number of antibodies to attach to nicotine molecules in the blood and renders them too large to reach the brain where they increase the craving to smoke, according to WebMD. The vaccine reduces the ability of nicotine to cause satisfaction from smoking.

The research trial involved 310 participants who were administered either a placebo or either four or five vaccine shots over six months. Of the participants given five shots, 16 percent remained free of their smoking habit after 12 months. The vaccine was most effective in the participants with the highest immune response, indicating that the vaccine worked as it was intended to, explains WebMD. Of participants with a lower antibody response, 8 percent also stopped smoking for at least one year.

In comparison to other techniques used to quit smoking, the NicVax vaccine’s effectiveness was considered similar, reports WebMD. Both the vaccine and placebo administered participants reported similar side effects including respiratory infections, colds and headaches. However, one participant suffered an anaphylactic response to the vaccine.

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