ADHD Treatment May Reduce Smoking Risk

Teens with ADHD who receive treatment may be less likely to start smoking

August 21, 2012 / Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

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(dailyRx News) Did you know that kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are more likely to start smoking? The question is whether seeking treatment early in life can decrease this risk.

According to a recent study, the answer is yes. The results showed a lower rate of smoking among kids treated for their ADHD than among untreated kids.

"Seeking ADHD treatments early reduces many risks."

The study, led by Paul Hammerness, MD, from the Clinical and Research Program in Pediatric Psychopharmacology and Adult ADHD at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, involved comparing three different teen populations.

One group of 154 adolescents with ADHD was treated with extended-release methylphenidate during the two-year study.

The researchers then assessed the smoking rates of these treated ADHD patients and two other groups using a validated psychological questionnaire.

One group was a historical sample of 103 teens with ADHD that represented the control group. The other was a group of 188 teens who did not have ADHD.

All three groups had similar proportions of ages and genders.

After 10 months of treatment with the methylphenidate, the rate of smoking in the teens treated for their ADHD was 7.1 percent, which was similar to the rate of 8 percent in the teens without ADHD.

The historical sample rate, however, which would be expected in the teens had they not been treated for ADHD, was 10.9 percent.

Therefore, the teens with ADHD who received treatment had about the same risk of starting to smoke as if they didn't have ADHD and a lower risk than if they had not been treated for the condition at all.

"Although considered preliminary until replicated in future randomized clinical trials, the findings from this single site, open-label study suggest that stimulant treatment may contribute to a decreased risk for smoking in adolescents with ADHD," the authors wrote.

"Given that youth who continue to smoke through adulthood may shorten their life expectancy by 5 to 10 years, any reduction in smoking risk would have significant clinical and public health impacts," they said.

The study was published August 9 in The Journal of Pediatrics. The research was funded by Janssen Scientific Affairs.

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Review Date: 
August 17, 2012
Last Updated:
October 2, 2012