Islamabad - Around 5 million people annually die of tobacco usage globally. Though the deaths are preventable, countries are not taking efforts to help their citizens quit smoking, says a new study.

“One of the barriers to countries doing more to offer support has been concern about cost,” says Martin Raw, the co-author of the study and director of the International Center for Tobacco Cessation.

Researchers used four countries of varying income levels to represent cost-effectiveness: Nepal for low-income countries, India for middle-low-income countries, China for upper-middle-income countries, and the United Kingdom for high-income countries.

The international team of researchers behind the study offer six following methods that are globally affordable and shown to work for quitting smoking.

Even 5 minute interaction between patient and doctors about the use of tobacco and its effects were found to raise the quitting rates by 2%. Books, pamphlets, medications and other printed information that can offer support increased the cessation by 2%. Trained counsellors available 24/7 through phonelines for encouraging tobacco users for quitting raised cessation rates to 3%. But hotlines that require callers to dial in themselves did not help people quit explained the researchers.

Motivational messages through texts can act as helpful reminders for smokers to quit. Quitting rates bumped up to 4% over no intervention.

Cytisine is a cheap plant extract that binds with nicotine receptors to make smoking less satisfying. It also alleviates the withdrawal symptoms that make quitting so hard. According to the new model, cytisine could help people from all income levels quit smoking at a low cost. When used by people who smoke at least 15 cigarettes a day, cytisine has increased the cesstion rates to 6%.

6. Nortriptyline: Researchers said that nortriptyline is a kind of antidepressant, therefore it requires constant monitoring from a healthcare professional. But when combined with behavioral support it showed 10% increase in quitting rates compared to a placebo.

“The beauty of these six solutions is that countries can essentially mix and match them according to their resources. The report shows that every country in the world could be doing something. The more a country does, the more of their citizens’ lives they will protect”, says lead author of the study Robert West.

Kidney problems linked to brain disorders: Study

Kidney problems can increase the risk of brain disorders, a new study finds. The findings suggest that protecting kidney health may also benefit the brain, the researchers said.

They studied data from more than 2,600 people in the Netherlands, and found that poor kidney function was strongly associated with decreased blood flow to the brain. They also saw an increased risk of stroke and memory and thinking problems (dementia) in people with kidney problems. The association was independent of known heart disease risk factors, the researchers said. “Our findings provide a possible explanation linking kidney disease to brain disease,” Dr M Arfan Ikram, an assistant professor of neuroepidemiology at Erasmus University Medical Center in the Netherlands, said in a journal news release.

“Also, given that kidney disease and (reduced blood flow to) the brain are both possibly reversible, there might be an opportunity to explore how improving these conditions can ultimately reduce one’s risk of developing brain disease,” Ikram added.

The researchers also noted that the risk of brain disorders may not be limited to people with chronic kidney disease, but also likely extends to people with milder kidney disorders.