FRIDAY, March 11 (HealthDay News) -- Text messages may help
smokers kick the addiction, particularly if they are tailored to
the individual, according to researchers who conducted two studies
on 27 heavy smokers.
In one study, functional MRI was used to pinpoint the brain
regions most active in controlling urges to smoke, which
researchers described as "a war that consists of a series of
momentary self-control skirmishes." The study found that
participants who had the most activity in the key regions of their
brains during testing were also the most likely to resist their
desire to smoke -- something that was documented in their responses
to later text messages.
Since the MRI scans predicted a person's ability to control
their responses to cravings, the researchers speculated that it may
be possible to customize smoking cessation programs to a person's
own capacity for self-control.
"We are really excited about this result because it means that the brain activation we see in the scanner is predictive of real-world outcomes across a much longer time span than we thought," Elliot Berkman, a professor of psychology at the University of Oregon, said in a university news release.
The study appears online this March in the journal
In the second study, Berkman and colleagues tested whether short
text messages could be used to track smokers' attempts to control
their smoking urges. The participants were sent eight text messages
per day for three weeks reminding them to document their ongoing
smoking cravings, cigarette use and mood.
The researchers concluded that text messaging is at least as
effective as more costly and harder-to-use handheld devices used to
collect such data.
"Text messaging may be an ideal delivery mechanism for tailored interventions because it is low-cost, most people already possess the existing hardware and the messages can be delivered near-instantaneously into real-world situations," the researchers wrote.
That study appears this week in the journal
The American Cancer Society offers a
guide to quitting smoking.