Quitting smoking can be an intensely difficult process to undergo. Yet, to ensure no further damage to the body, it is a beneficial idea for people to eliminate the habit altogether. In today’s society, the awareness of the harms of smoking has brought about the development of many cessation tools. Transcranial magnetic stimulation, a brain therapy, is among these tools. It may be useful for helping people abstain from smoking. Throughout the article, details regarding the efficacy of transcranial magnetic stimulation for smoking cessation, based on a research findings outlined by Psychology Today, will be examined.
Smoking is the frontrunner for causes of preventable human death. Not only is this true in terms of the American population, it is applicable the world over. Each year, 480,000 adults die in the United States due to causes directly related to smoking, says The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Aside from 69 known carcinogens, cigarettes contain about 6,930 other chemical compounds, adds Cancer.gov. Many different cancers are the result of the damage smoking does to the body. Ninety percent of lung cancer-related deaths, and 80% of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease occurrences, can be attributed to cigarettes, says The CDC. In general, smoking may lead to eye disease, bone and tooth loss, diabetes and a shorter lifespan.
Women who smoke during pregnancy put the health of the fetus at risk, and may potentially birth babies with concerns such as low birth weight. As well, pregnant smokers are more likely than the general population to miscarry or have stillborn babies. Those who are exposed to sidestream smoke, commonly referred to as secondhand smoke, have a 20 – 30% increase in likelihood of suffering a stroke or developing heart disease, says Cancer.gov. They also add that there are 34,000 deaths per years that are the result of sidestream smoke. Children who live in environments where they face exposure to secondhand smoke have a higher rate of ear infections, the common cold, bronchitis and pneumonia. It can also worsen childhood asthma and wheezing, and may cause Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
What is TMS?
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a therapy that uses electromagnets to stimulate regions within the brain. A magnetic coil is placed on the head and a pulse is delivered to the brain area being treated. The intensity of the electromagnetic wave is predetermined for each individual. When multiple pulses are administered in succession, it is known as repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation. The general concept behind TMS is that certain illnesses are caused by imbalances in the brain’s cellular activity. The goal of treatment is to correct such disproportion, thereby alleviating symptoms. There is also a form of this therapy called deep TMS, which allows technicians to access areas deeper in the brain than the above therapies. This is accomplished through the use of a new, innovative coil, though the overall premise remains the same.
TMS Therapy for Smoking Cessation
Psychology Today provides information about the deep variety of TMS therapy and its efficacy as a smoking cessation tool. A study out of Israel, conducted in 2014, observed how low frequency and high frequency TMS differed in usefulness for this purpose. A group of frequent smokers received either high, low or no frequency TMS 13 times over the span of three weeks. At the study’s end, 35% of individuals in the high frequency group were completely abstinent from smoking, while only 7% in the low frequency group were. This information was published in the journal of Biological Psychiatry. The authors also noted that, six months afterwards, 28% of people from the high frequency group were still smoke free; the amount remained the same for low frequency subjects.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation is a therapy in which brain activity is altered through the use of electromagnetic energy. Recently, it has been assessed as a potential tool for smoking cessation. One study found that there was a decently sized response to high frequency deep TMS, when compared to abstinence rates resulting from low frequency treatment. As TMS for this purpose is relatively novel, follow up research will have to be conducted before definite conclusions can be drawn.