Sat, Apr 15, 2017 - Page 4 News List

Quitting smoking offers healthier benefits: doctor

By Wang Chun-chung and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

The health benefits of a tobacco-free life far outweigh the harmful effects of potential weight gain from quitting smoking, a physician at the Tainan Municipal An-Nan Hospital said on Tuesday.

Studies have shown that people who quit smoking on average gained between 4kg and 5kg in the first three months, while their body mass index increased by 1.1, family doctor Tsai Chung-hung (蔡忠紘) said, adding that those effects are medically significant.

However, about 20 percent of people who stopped smoking lost weight after one year, which showed significant variations in the effects of quitting smoking on individuals, he said.

“Research suggests there are multiple causes for potential weight gain after people stopped smoking,” Tsai said.

Nicotine suppresses the appetite while boosting metabolic rates, so those who quit smoking may gain weight as a result of eating larger portions that their bodies are not as quick in coping with, he said.

Withdrawal-related anxiety may lead to overeating and some people who quit smoking use food as a substitute for tobacco, he said.

Additionally, a new study has shown that tobacco use could greatly alter the microbial environment in the digestive system and those changes could explain the weight gain, Tsai said.

In the absence of increased physical exercise to cancel out the larger portions, people who stop smoking are likely to put on weight, he said.

However, not all people who stopped smoking put on weight, as prescriptions and counseling for managing withdrawal can mitigate those effects, he said.

People who stopped smoking while maintaining a healthy diet and exercise habits may gain very little weight, he said.

These include eating a balanced diet, chewing their food thoroughly, fasting before sleeping, drinking lots of water, exercising regularly and monitoring their weight, he said.

The benefits of quitting smoking are far greater than the harmful effects of potential weight gain: higher blood pressure, blood sugar and lipid levels due to weight gain have negative effects, but they do not compare with the cardiovascular and cerebrovascular damage from smoking, he said.

“Smoking has total and comprehensive negative effects to the entire body and people who refuse to quit because they are afraid of getting fat have misplaced priorities,” he said.

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