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Menstrual Cycle May Affect Success Of Women Trying To Quit Smoking

PITTSBURGH, April 10, 2000 — New research from the University of Pittsburgh shows that timing is everything for women trying to quit smoking. In research published in a recent issue of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Kenneth A. Perkins, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry, found that women who quit smoking during the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle (days 1-14 following menstruation) experienced less severe symptoms of tobacco withdrawal and depression than women who quit during the luteal phase (day 15 or longer post-menstrual).

According to Dr. Perkins, the differences in symptoms could be due to the menstrual cycle’s hormonal changes and their influence on mood. Negative mood due to cycle phase combined with tobacco withdrawal could make sustained quitting very difficult.

"One implication of these results is that younger women preparing to quit smoking should select a quit day early in their menstrual cycle to minimize withdrawal symptoms and depression," said Dr. Perkins. "This simple behavioral strategy for timing the quit day may decrease negative mood effects of cessation at no cost or risk of adverse side effects to the smoker."

According to Dr. Perkins, further study of hormonal influences and sex differences in factors affecting smoking behavior may lead to improved treatment of smoking cessation in women.

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