Extra pounds healthier than smoking, study finds

March 12, 2013 2:55:36 PM PDT
Among the many excuses smokers list for not kicking the habit is the concern of weight gain. Some argue the extra pounds could even offset the heart benefits of quitting. But researchers say that's not so. A study of 3,000 people in the "Journal Of The American Medical Association" finds despite 6 pounds of weight gain, which is the average, quitters still had half the chance of suffering a heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular event. "Patients and often their doctors are worried about patients quitting smoking if they are a little overweight or if they have diabetes because they think maybe they'll cause more harm than good," Dr. Nancy Rigotti, Massachusetts General Hospital, said. "If you're a current smoker you'll get a tremendous benefit from stopping smoking you may gain a little weight but that won't reduce the benefits of stopping smoking," Dr. James Meigs, Massachusetts General Hospital, said. The take-home message? Ex-smokers' extra pounds are still less unhealthy than their previous habit.