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Cigarette smokers are known to have low levels of omega-3 fatty acids, the essential fats necessary for brain function. A 2014 study suggests that providing omega-3 fatty acids to regular cigarette smokers reduced daily smoking and tobacco cravings.
Previous research has demonstrated that a deficiency of the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) can contribute to psychological stress. Interestingly, the areas of the brain that process stress and drug cues have sizable overlap. Imbalanced levels of omega-3 fatty acids found in smokers can make them more vulnerable to stress, which can contribute to the urge to smoke. The current study investigated whether the administration of omega-3 fatty acids to smokers would affect cravings.
In this double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled pilot study, the researchers provided smokers with a combination of EPA and DHA or a placebo daily for four weeks. The authors assessed tobacco cravings after cueing participants with images of cigarettes and other people smoking. After one month of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation, smokers experienced reduced tobacco cravings and reported an 11 percent lower daily cigarette intake as compared to the start of the study. Cravings remained below baseline for one month post-treatment. The placebo did not affect tobacco cravings or cigarette consumption.
These preliminary findings suggest that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation decreases daily smoking and tobacco cravings in cigarette smokers. Further clinical trials are needed to determine if these findings hold up.
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