Quitting smoking reduces the risk of heart disease, even in smokers who gain weight after they quit, a new study finds.
Researchers found the median weight gain for people who did not have diabetes and had recently quit smoking was about six pounds. Despite their weight gain, these ex-smokers were about 53 percent less likely to have a heart attack, stroke or death from heart disease in the six years after quitting, compared with people who continued to smoke, CNN reports. People who were long-term quitters had a 54 percent reduced risk.
Senior study author James Meigs, M.D., M.P.H. of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston noted in a news release, “In patients with diabetes – among whom weight gain is a particular concern – we saw the same pattern of a large risk reduction regardless of weight gained.”
“The message of this study is that weight gain following smoking cessation does not offset the benefits of smoking cessation on cardiovascular diseases,” researcher Carole Clair, M.D., told CNN. “Doctors should advise all their patients to quit smoking.”
The study appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association.