A recently published study found that people who gained weight as a result of smoking cessation faced an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Many previous studies have reflected a correlation between cessation and weight gain, and have shown most people gain less than 10 pounds but may gain as many as 30 pounds. This weight gain can be the result of many different things, including attempting to replace the habit or the fact that their appetite is no longer being suppressed by nicotine.
This recent study was longitudinal, meaning that it followed many people in three studies over a span of many years, 19 years in this particular case. This information indicated that the more weight that the individual’s gained in the process of quitting, the more likely they were to develop type 2 diabetes. In the event that the participant gained more than 22 pounds, their risk for type 2 diabetes increased by 59 percent. This risk level was the most prominent five to seven years after the habit has been kicked. Despite the fact that weight gain can lead to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, the participants in these studies consistently decreased their risk of early death and their risk of dying from heart disease, by 50 and 67 percent respectively.
These results reflect that holistically the benefits of cessation far outweigh the potential increased risk of type 2 diabetes. The health effects of smoking reach throughout all of the systems in our body, which causes us to have an increased risk of many diseases. One of the major concerns with smoking is cardiovascular disease, but smoking has also been linked to an increased risk for lung and digestive diseases, as well as for Alzheimer’s disease. “The damage from smoking is so overwhelming that it just beats everything else,” said Schroeder, who wrote an editorial that accompanied the study. “Nothing comes close to being so good for your health as stopping smoking.”
The study found that people who didn’t gain weight or gained only a small amount of weight during their attempt to stop did not experience an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This indicates that, now that we are aware of the potential increased risk for type 2 diabetes, weight management should be emphasized during the process of cessation. “Studies show if you eat a healthy diet, if you improve physical activity, weight gain can be reduced and controlled while quitting smoking,” said Dr. Qi Sun.
This longitudinal study indicates that, even with an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, smokers health will benefit from stopping the habit. This is not to say that obesity isn’t a health concern, but it is to say that smoking statistically comes with more health risks overall. It is important for people who are trying to stop to be aware that weight gain can come with health risks, but that ending the habit will ultimately be beneficial. In knowing this, we can monitor weight gain properly to decrease risks.