Does Smoking Prevent Obesity?

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Does Smoking Prevent Obesity?


We all know it’s smart to eat right and exercise to stay slim… but should you also light up?

Many people who quit smoking gain significant weight soon thereafter. But why? To a generation raised on the smoke-free gospel, the idea that anything good can come from a tobacco leaf is pure heresy.

However, a new study out of Weill Medical College at Cornell University in New York has found that healthy smokers showed greater activity in a gene that may be critical to the body’s ability to break down fat and control its own weight.

In other words, like it or not, the data indicates that smoking really does help keep you thin. Anecdotal evidence tells us that many longtime smokers begin to eat more after quitting. Then there’s the fact that nicotine boosts the smoker’s metabolism, burning off the calories they eat.

The truth, however, is that no one really knows why so many ex-smokers gain weight. We do know that smoking is bad for you – there is no doubt that it promotes lung cancer, for example, among many other diseases. But being obese is at least as dangerous: the World Cancer Research Fund says that around 17% of breast, bowel, esophagus, kidney, pancreas, endometrium and gallbladder cancers are likely triggered by obesity-related hormone imbalances.

So which is worse: smoking and staying thin, or being a fat non-smoker? The researchers can’t exactly say, noting that the relationship between nicotine use and body mass is, quote, “complex”.

In any case, common sense tells us that inhaling smoke is a bad idea, so until research can demonstrate that smoking is somehow actually good for you, we’d just as soon stay smoke-free. After all, if you set your mind to it you can always lose the weight – but once your lungs are ruined, no amount of willpower in the world will enable you to grow a new set.

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