Weight gain after smoking cessation doesn't negate health benefits

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One of the fears people have when trying to quit smoking is weight gain.

And, until now, it was unclear whether extra weight gained after quitting smoking canceled out any cardiovascular benefits that would occur from dropping the habit.

Research from the Framingham Offspring Study showed that risk reduction for heart attack, stroke or cardiovascular death did not change even when prior smokers put on some pounds.

The study

The Framingham Offspring Study began in 1971, recruiting patients to have a comprehensive medical evaluation every four to six years. For the current research, data was collected on participant visits that happened during the 1980s through the mid-2000s, which represented the patients' third through eighth visits of the study.

Smokers who had recently quit gained an average of five to 10 pounds since their previous visits, while long-term quitters gained about one to two pounds between visits. But despite how much weight both groups gained, risk of cardiovascular complications in the six years after quitting was cut in half for participants that didn't have diabetes. Yet even diabetics saw reduced heart risks, albeit ones that were not significant enough to note.

"Among people without diabetes, those who stopped smoking had a 50 percent reduction in the risk for heart attack, stroke or cardiovascular death, and accounting for any weight increase didn't change that risk reduction," wrote senior study author James Meigs, MD, MPH, of the General Medicine Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Weight gain not a reason to avoid quitting

Based on the information in the study, researchers say that would-be quitters can be confident that, even with weight gain, they're adding years back on their lives by quitting smoking. Meigs elaborates:

We now can say without question that stopping smoking has a very positive effect on cardiovascular risk for patients with and without diabetes, even if they experience the moderate weight gain seen in this study, which matches post-cessation weight increase reported in other studies.

The study is published in the March 13 issue of JAMA.

Source: Science Daily

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