Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Smokers beware

Don't worry, this is not another why smoking is bad lecture. Smoking is a choice. You can smoke until your blood vessels and respiratory system sclerose.

This article is about a recent smoking cessation ad I saw claiming laser treatments will help you stop smoking. The laser used is Cold Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT for short). The claim is utilizing laser light beams instead of needles in an acupuncture-like treatment to stimulate cellular activity and block messages i.e. smoke cravings.

Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese therapy using fine needles inserted through the skin at specific points in the body. Acupuncture is used with the aim of reducing the withdrawal symptoms people experience when they try to quit smoking.

Unfortunately, the existing evidence does not support the effectiveness of either of these treatments.
There is no consistent, science based evidence that acupuncture, acupressure, laser therapy or electrostimulation are effective for smoking cessation.

St George’s Hospital Medical School in London, UK, conducted a  mini-evaluation of a local laser therapy clinic claiming to help people quit smoking. The above techniques including laser treatments were proven ineffective for long term benefits. The short term benefit was a decrease in cravings but no smoking cessation. The desire to smoke remained.

What was learned at the end of the study was those wanting to quite smoking should re-direct their finances on more useful resources that demonstrated proven tract records of long term success such as counseling by a trained clinician and or FDA regulated smoking cessation products.

The internet is flooded with LLLT for smoking cessation. This does not mean the short descriptions your reading of LLLT for smoking cessation is science based truth. Do due diligence and don't allow yourself to get caught up in costly alternative ways to quit smoking.

LLLT may be effective in conjunction with, in addition to, along with other smoking cessation therapies.

There is no hard evidence, no FDA approved smoking cessation laser, no FDA scientific study to back up laser treatments alone help people quit smoking. Lack of evidence and methodological problems means no firm conclusions may be drawn. These interventions alone are likely to be less effective than proven evidence-based interventions.

If you decide to try LLLT for smoking cessation, here a few starter questions to keep in mind:

How many people has the individual treated for smoking cessation? Average cost, how many treatments, length of treatments? Cost of follow-up treatments? What other treatment modalities are used in conjunction with LLLT?  What is your long term success rate - more than 1 year smoking cessation success rate? Short term success rate?

Good health,

Trisha M. Pacenti RN,BSN