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Weight gain following smoking cessation 'does not negate benefit of quitting'

Smoking cessation followed by an increase in weight does not result in an increased risk of cardiovascular events, say researchers.

The study

Data from the offspring cohort of the Framingham Heart Study was used to identify 3,251 adults free of cardiovascular disease. Each participant was assessed for smoking status every four to six years. They were classified as current smokers if they regularly smoked cigarettes at any time during the previous year. Recent quitters were defined as those who reported not smoking once, but had reported smoking at previous assessments. Long-term quitters were patients who reported not smoking at two or more consecutive assessments.

The findings

Compared with smokers, recent quitters were 53% less likely to experience a cardiovascular event over a six-year period. Long-term quitters were 54% less likely, compared with smokers. When adjusting for change in weight, these values remained significant, with recent quitters seeing their risk raise slightly to 51%.

What does it mean for GPs?

The US researchers concluded that the results ‘support a net cardiovascular benefit of smoking cessation, despite subsequent weight gain’. An associated editorial, written by Dr Michael Fiore, a physician at the University of Wisconsin school of medicine, claimed that it supports ‘the belief that smoking cessation is beneficial for smokers, and no subpopulation has yet been identified that shows significantly reduced benefit from quitting, let alone harm.’

JAMA 2013, available online 12 March

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