70-80% of regular smokers fulfill the ICD-10-criteria of dependence. In Germany, approximately 120,000 deaths per year are caused by tobacco-associated diseases. In contrast, therapeutic interventions, such as nicotine substitution or bupropione, yield poor abstinence rates of 30% after 12 months, at best. In animal experiments, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) exhibited modulatory effects on dopaminergic neurotransmission in regions of the so-called reward system. This pilot study should evaluate, if rTMS could modulate subjective craving for tobacco, which quite often leads to relapse to smoking. Therefore, 11 tobacco-dependent cigarette smokers were randomly assigned to a course of verum- and placebo-rTMS on consecutive days. Craving, as measured by a visual analogue scale, is significantly decreased after Verumstimulation compared to placebo-stimulation intra-individually. This encourages further studies to clarify, if rTMS might be helpful in achieving higher tobacco abstinence rates in smokers willing to quits.
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