There are metabolic benefits to quitting smoking, according to new research presented at ENDO 2015, the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society in San Diego.
Smoking is anecdotally associated with weight gain, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes, but the results of the study suggest that this is not the case.
The researchers gathered a group of healthy smokers (smoking between half a pack and two packs a day) into an eight-week programme designed to help them quit through behavioural counselling. The participants were then moved on to phrase 2, a 16-week programme without counselling during which the participants were left to their own devices.
The researchers took a series of measurements before and after Phase 1, including number of cigarettes per day, carbon monoxide on their breath, urine nicotine metabolites, weight, body composition, fat distributio, free fatty acids, and glucose released from the liver.
Over the eight weeks (Phase 1), the participants’ fat distribution got slightly worse. Over time, however, there was a significant increase in fat distribution.
In addition, insulin resistance levels remained exactly the samen, suggesting that the risk of type 2 diabetes did not increase when the participants stopped smoking.
In other words, people who quit smoking experience beneficial changes to their metabolism over time, in contrast to what many people believe.
Theodore C. Friedma, principal investigator and chair of the Department of Internal Medicine of Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles, California, said: “In general, people think that when they stop smoking, they are going to gain weight and their diabetes and insulin resistance are going to get worse, but we didn’t find that.
“Our study showed that insulin resistance was basically the same and some of the fat redistribution seemed to be better. Initially fight might have gone into the abdomen, but later, it went back to the thigh, which is more benign.”

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