NIH: Weight gain does not outweigh smoking cessation in risk of CVD

BETHESDA, Md. — The improvement in cardiovascular health that results from quitting smoking far outweighs the limited risks to cardiovascular health from the modest amount of weight gained after quitting, according to a National Institutes of Health-funded community study released Wednesday. 

“Our findings suggest that a modest weight gain, around 5-10 pounds, has a negligible effect on the net benefit of quitting smoking,” stated study co-author Caroline Fox, senior investigator in the Laboratory for 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 found that former smokers without diabetes had about half as much risk of developing cardiovascular disease as current smokers, and this risk level did not change when post-cessation weight gain was accounted for in the analysis. Fox cautioned that the analysis could not definitively conclude the role of modest weight gain in former smokers with diabetes, though the numbers suggested a similar trend.

This study is the first epidemiological effort to directly address the health impact of the weight gain that many people experience following smoking cessation. The findings will be published in the March 13 Journal of the American Medical Association.


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