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Study: Weight Gain After Quitting Smoking Doesn't Elevate Cardio Risks

Scott Monge

Some smokers who consider dropping the habit mull a few different factors. But the one that usually makes the top of the list is weight gain. Putting on a few pounds is a widely known effect of quitting smoking. It keeps many people from making the commitment to finally stop. Some have made the argument that added weight could be an even worse risk to their health than smoking.

A recent study funded by the National Institutes of Health says that isn’t true. The researchers found that the benefits of quitting smoking outpace the risk of modest weight gain. According to the study, extra pounds accrued after quitting don’t elevate cardiovascular risks.

“Our findings suggest that a modest weight gain, around 5-10 pounds, has a negligible effect on the net benefit of quitting smoking,” said Dr. Caroline Fox, co-author of the study and senior investigator in the Laboratory of Metabolic and Population Health at the NIH’s National Heart, Lung, And Blood Institute. “Being able to quantify to some degree the relationship between the benefits and side effects of smoking cessation can help in counseling those who have quit or are thinking about quitting.”

The study was the first epidemiological effort to directly address the health impact of post-cessation weight gain.

And while the findings showed concrete data for most smokers, the analysis couldn’t definitively conclude the role of weight gain in ex-smokers with diabetes. But Dr. Fox noted the study suggested a similar trend and expressed the need for follow-up research as weight control is a key factor in managing the disease and preventing heart problems associated with it.

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