Duluth researcher seeks cause for link between quitting smoking, high sensitivity to painIf you smoke and want to quit, Dr. Mustafa al’Absi would like to hear from you. Al’Absi, the director of the Duluth Medical Research Institute, wants to find out why smokers experience high sensitivity to pain while they’re trying to quit.
By: John Lundy, Duluth News Tribune
If you smoke and want to quit, Dr. Mustafa al’Absi would like to hear from you.
Al’Absi, the director of the Duluth Medical Research Institute, wants to find out why smokers experience high sensitivity to pain while they’re trying to quit. It’s already known from recent studies at the University of Minnesota Medical School that chronic smoking could be linked to abnormal physiological responses to stress, which in turn can make smokers pain-sensitive, a news release from the Medical School said.
Now al’Absi, who’s also a medical school professor, wants to discover the biology behind that connection.
If the secret is discovered, that could lead to a strategy to counter the effect, al’Absi said in a telephone interview. The result, al’Absi hopes, would be more people quitting successfully.
“We find close to 50 percent of smokers who try to quit go back to smoking within the first week,” al’Absi said. “As you can tell that’s a critical window of time.”
Al’Absi’s study is funded by the National Institutes of Health. It is one of multiple studies being conducted at multiple sites over four years with total funding of about $1.7 million, he said.
The study al’Absi is leading is open to daily smokers between 18 and 70 years old who generally are in good health and ready to quit. Participants will receive four weekly hourlong sessions to help them quit. They’ll also be responsible for two to three testing sessions that will last three to four hours during which they will give blood and saliva samples and take part in tasks that measure their response to stress. All sessions will take place at the medical school on the University of Minnesota Duluth campus.
The participants will receive financial compensation, but that won’t be the major benefit, al’Absi said.
“You’re really starting a new and fresh chapter of your health for the rest of your life,” he said. “They get some money for helping themselves as well as helping the science of discovering a new way to treat this smoking addiction.”
To learn more
For more information about the quit-smoking study, call (218) 726-8896.