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18-03-2013 | Article

It’s the smoking, stupid!

When assessing preventable disease factors, stopping smoking seems to be either at, or near, the top of interventions we can pursue to maximise health gain. Indeed, in my own practice, it is frequently thrown up by cardiovascular risk assessment algorithms as the most effective change a patient can make.

Most people are receptive to the idea of quitting smoking, though many admit they are not successful and others are happy to keep smoking. One issue which puts some off attempting to quit is the risk of weight gain. However, we can now counter that argument with some research that was recently published in JAMA, as reported by Univadis Medical News (click here)

According to the article: "GPs can reassure patients that the cardiovascular benefits of quitting smoking are not cancelled out by any associated weight gain." The study highlights the significant health benefits of quitting smoking on cardiovascular disease. In some cases, the risk of developing conditions such as ischaemic heart or peripheral vascular disease can be more than halved on cessation when compared with continuing to smoke. It was also noted by the study authors that smoking cessation weight gain can be negated by the impact of exercise and nicotine replacement.

The fear of weight gain should be addressed when counselling patients about smoking cessation and this research should give us more ammunition when stating our case.

What's more, this practical and useful research is published open-access in a well-recognised, high quality medical journal. I hope this kind of research work not only achieves wide publicity within the health professional community, but also with the general public as well. With modern communications and social media, hopefully the take home message from this research will be spread far and wide.

Best wishes,


Dr Harry Brown, editor-in-chief Univadis

By Dr Harry Brown