Thursday, May 04, 2006

*Article: Sarasota clinic offers shot to stop smoking

Note: interesting article delving into treathing the *cause*

Scott Smith decided on his 40th birthday it would be a good time to quit smoking. He had tried to quit before with nicotine gum and other methods, but was unsuccessful. Smith knew he had to quit. His wife had never smoked, but since a neck accident and surgery paralyzed her vocal cords, she now had only 50 percent use of her lungs. He knew he had to be successful this time - if not for his own health, for hers. "She didn't have a choice," he said. "I have a choice."

Then one day Smith saw an advertisement posted at work on a bulletin board for the American Medical Innovations or AMI Stop Smoking Clinic in Sarasota. The clinic helps people quit smoking with the use of a new shot developed by Dr. Kirk Voelker. Smith decided to give it a try. Voelker's shot is not one of the new nicotine vaccines under development. But ! it is one of many options available to those seeking to quit, among them hypnosis, nicotine patches, accupuncture, inhalers, nasal sprays and prescription medications.

Smith is one of approximately 46 million people who smoke in the United States, according to statistics published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States and is the biggest cause of lung cancer," the agency said. Approximately 440,000 people die each year from smoking. Smoking is projected to cause nearly 450 million deaths worldwide during the next 50 years, according to the Worldwide Health Organization.

Smith's parents both suffered heart attacks before they finally quit smoking. He was starting to feel his health was being compromised from 25 years of smoking. News in May of a new nicotine vaccine brought hope to people struggling with trying to quit smoking. Cytos Biotechnology of Zu! rich; Xenova Group of Berkshire, England; Nabi Biopharmaceuticals of Boca Raton.; and Prommune of Omaha, Neb., have all been testing their own version of a nicotine vaccine.

Results from a study of a nicotine vaccine were released at a meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Orlando. The study, led by Dr. Jacques Cornuz of Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois in Lausanne, Switzerland, found of the 53 people tested who received the vaccine, nearly 60 percent of the smokers stopped smoking for at least six months after they achieved high levels of antibodies against nicotine. Of those who developed the highest levels of antibodies, 30 stopped smoking, and those who didn't stop smoked fewer cigarettes, Cornuz said. The way the vaccine works is that the drug nicotine binds to the antibodies in the blood and removes it, preventing the drug from reaching the brain. The vaccine is still in the trial stages, but confirms the idea that a vaccine can be developed, according to Cornuz.

But news of the vaccine's su! ccess may be a little premature, say some. The American Lung Association has heard only briefly of the vaccine and is waiting for more trials before it makes an endorsement, said Kurt Goerke, regional director for Southwest Florida. But he did say if a nicotine vaccine was ever created and approved, it would be another great weapon to help people quit smoking. "We're not here to tell someone what is the best method," Goerke said.

The American Lung Association already has a successful smoking cessation program called "Freedom from Smoking." It focuses on behavior modification, he said. The class utilizes the association's years of expertise and support from class participants to help people quit smoking. For three weeks, the class centers on the triggers that cause them to smoke. Then together they designate a date to quit. There is also an online version of the class. It's kind of a cyber-buddy system, Goerke said. "We've had good su! ccess with it," he said. "The good thing is that they can g o online at three in the morning."

Smith had tried quitting on his own with no success. A captain with the North River Fire Department, Smith risked losing his job as a firefighter as an indirect result of his smoking. "In all honesty, I'm kind of a weak jellyfish when it comes to this," Smith said. Then Smith saw that advertisement at work for the AMI Stop Smoking Clinic in Sarasota. He decided to give it a try.

The shot the AMI clinic uses is not the nicotine vaccine. It is a combination of Scopolamine, which is used in sea sickness patches and Atarax, which is an antihistamine, said Dr. Kirk Voelker, a pulmonologist who started the clinic. "It gets you over the hump," he said. The cost for the AMI stop-smoking treatment is $375 for the shot, follow-up support and additional medications, Voelker said. The clinic has a 70 percent to 80 percent success rate for the first month, and a 50 percent success rate for the first year, he! said. "It's not just this magical shot that makes you quit smoking," he said. "It takes time."

Getting through the first year is the most difficult, Voelker said. Smith can vouch for that. Now a non-smoker for the past few weeks, he said the first few days were the most difficult. "You have to change the habit of smoking," Smith said. "When I used to sit down in the car, the first thing I would do is light a cigarette."

Voelker started the stop-smoking clinic because he had seen hundreds of patients with lung disease caused by smoking. He decided rather than treating the disease after the fact, it would be better to focus on helping people quit. "If I don't get them to quit, it will be another four or five years before they quit," Voelker said. "I can't let that happen."  Voelker developed the shot for the AMI clinic and said he knows other stop-smoking clinics use a similar shot, but often! include the anti-psychotic drug, Thorazine. Voelker said he doesn't like to use it because the drug, often used for schizophrenia, overmedicates patients. Still, even some patients can't take the AMI shot because of the side effects. Smith said he scheduled time off of work because the shot made him feel "a little tipsy." Voelker said the most common side effects are dry mouth and a "drunk feeling." The doctor recommends patients have someone drive them home after the shot. But from that point on, "you're a non-smoker," he said.

The AMI clinic does offer optional treatments like the prescription stop-smoking aid Zyban and hypnosis for those who can't tolerate the shot, Voelker said. "Whatever it takes to help you quit, the clinic will make it available," he said. Gail Borden operates a hypnosis clinic in Sarasota to help people quit smoking. She has been using hypnosis and natural methods for more than 13 years.  Hypnosis is a way to help people quit smoking by "distracting th! e conscious mind," Borden said. It costs $198 for one treatment or consultation. But it can only help if the person is ready to quit, she said. "It supports or changes things that you want," Borden said. She and her sister, Adrienne Borden, developed a dual technique to help people quit smoking they call the Borden System. It's a combination of hypnosis and acupuncture. The hypnosis treats the causes of smoking while the acupuncture is a centuries-old Chinese method of treating physical symptoms, she said. The cost of the Borden System treatment is $450. The treatment is guaranteed for one year, she said. They have about a 95 percent success rate with their clients using the system.  "For most it's such a big deal to give up smoking," Borden said.  Like AMI, Borden said they follow up the treatment with support for clients. "We try to treat the cause," she said. "The results have been great."

Besides hy! pnosis and medications, there are various nicotine replacement therap ies in the form of gums, lozenges and patches available as well. Nicotine inhalers and nasal sprays can be obtained through physicians. But experts at the American Cancer Society say nicotine replacement therapy only helps with the physical symptoms of quitting and should be combined with a smoking cessation support program. For Smith, it has been a few weeks since he stopped smoking. He has made it through the initial urges for cigarettes and now looks toward the future. Overall, his experience has been good, he said. Already he said he can feel the difference in his health. "I feel good," he said. "I have a little bit more energy, and I'm not coughing in the morning."

For information about stopping smoking, questions about lung-related illnesses, or for information about the American Lung Association Freedom from Smoking classes, call (800) 548-8252. Or go online at www.ffs! or

The American Cancer Society has information about stopping smoking at, or call the local office at (941) 745-1214.

For more information about the AMI Stop Smoking Clinic, call (941) 303-1696 or GO online at

For information on the Borden clinic and the Borden System, call (941) 953-MIND.

Source: WENDY DAHL, Special to The Herald

Note: Anything that is less costly then continued smoking and paying into big tobacco is worth a shot in my book :)

-- A mind once stretched by a new idea never regains its original dimensions.              !                  ~robbb OF+4M --