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Women Who Want to Quit Smoking Should Do It on the Second Phase Of Their Menstrual Cycle, Research Suggests

First Posted: Jun 05, 2016 05:27 AM EDT
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Women who plan to quit smoking should start on the second phase of their monthly period.
(Photo : Ryan Pierse / Getty Images)

Recent study has revealed that women who want to quit smoking would be more successful if they line the dates they quit with the optimal days within their menstrual cycle.

Drs. Reagan Wetherhill and Teresa Franklin, two lead authors of an innovative new study on how changes in the female brain affect addiction said that women's menstrual cycle can often have a dramatic effect their mood and personality, so it might also be able to affect their ability to give up nicotine which is one of the most addictive substances in the world.

According to Medical Daily, findings of a previous study that quitting smoking is harder for men than women were used by the new researchers. The team specifically looked at the effects of estrogen and progesterone, two natural sex hormones, on addictive behavior animals.

In the study, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania divided women who volunteered for the study into two groups according to where they were in their menstrual cycle. Half of the total number of women was in their follicular phase. This phase starts on the first day of a period and ends as ovulation starts, which is usually from days 1 until day 13. While the other remaining women were in the luteal phase which usually happens on the day of the ovulation until the first day of the next menstrual cycle.

Scientists found that women in their second half of their cycle had reduced brain connectivity which may help make good decisions which is usually done in the cortical control regions and the reward center in the ventral striatum. According to researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine, this puts women at a greater risk to continue smoking and relapse.

Wetherill, who is an assistant professor of psychology, said the discovery could help pave the way for better and effective ways to totally quit smoking, Mail Online reported.

'Understanding how the menstrual cycle phase affects neural processes, cognition and behaviour is a critical step in developing more effective treatments and in selecting the best, most individualised treatment options to help each cigarette smoker quit,' he said. 

'When we learn that something as simple as timing a quit date may impact a woman's cessation success, it helps us to provide more individualised treatment strategies for individuals who are struggling with addiction.'

Research has already named 21 diseases caused by smoking which includes 12 types of cancer, , six categories of heart disease, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [COPD], and pneumonia including influenza.

The World Health Organization said that smoking is one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced, killing around six million people a year.

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