New "Quit-Smoking" Diet

June 1, 2007
drinking milk has its benefits

Hutton Archive

Milk does the body good—and may help smokers break the habit, according to a new Duke Medical Center study.

In what researchers say is the first study to explore the taste-altering effects of food and beverages on cigarette palatability, 209 smokers were asked to name items that worsen or enhance the taste of cigarettes.

Smokers reported that consuming milk, water, fruits, and vegetables worsened the taste of cigarettes, while consuming alcohol, coffee, and meat enhanced their taste, according to the scientists.

The findings, which appear in the Journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research, could lead to a "Quit Smoking Diet" or to development of a gum or lozenge that makes cigarettes less palatable, says lead study investigator Joseph McClernon, an assistant research professor of medical psychiatry at the Duke Center for Nicotine and Smoking Cessation Research. The researchers are now looking at the possibility of integrating the chemical silver acetate, which is known to alter the taste of cigarettes, into a gum or a lozenge to help smokers quit.

Still, researchers caution that any treatment will not likely be 100 percent effective. "Every deterrent treatment requires willpower," says Jed E. Rose, the center's director and a study co-investigator. "This approach alone will not work. It may make cigarettes less pleasurable, but ultimately, if a person is craving a cigarette, he will start smoking again."

Rose recommends that diet modifications be used in combination with standard nicotine-replacement therapy, such as the nicotine patch and nicotine gum, to help with withdrawal.

The researchers also say smokers of menthol cigarettes were less likely to report that any foods or beverages alter the taste of cigarettes, a finding that suggests menthol covers up bad tastes stemming from items consumed with cigarettes.