"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," said principal investigator Theodore C. Friedman of the Charles R. Drew University

"Our study showed that insulin resistance was basically the same and some of the fat redistribution seemed to be better. Initially fat might have gone into the abdomen, but later, it went back to the thigh, which is more benign," Friedman added.

For the study, half-to-two pack-per-day smokers were enrolled into an eight-week quit smoking programme of behavioural counselling plus oral bupropion (antidepressant drug).

This was followed by a 16-week maintenance period without counselling where the smokers either remained abstinent or naturally resumed/increased smoking. Smoking cessation over 8 weeks was linked with worsening of central fat distribution, followed by a larger, favourable reversal over subsequent months.

"Smoking cessation appears to have complex but generally favourable metabolic effects, and they should be encouraged. Cessation also seems to lead to beneficial effects in terms of where the fat is and what happens with hepatic glucose release from the liver," Friedman said.


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