"Cigarette smoking is an important cause of cardiovascular disease, and smoking cessation reduces the risk. However, weight gain after smoking cessation may increase the risk of diabetes and weaken the benefit of quitting," write Juhua Luo, Ph.D., of the Indiana University School of Public Health, Bloomington, Ind., and colleagues.
As reported in a Research Letter, the authors used data from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) to assess the association between smoking cessation, weight gain, and subsequent coronary heart disease (CHD) risk among postmenopausal women with and without diabetes. In the WHI, 161,808 postmenopausal women 50 through 79 years of age were recruited from 40 sites between 1993 and 1998 and followed up every 6 to 12 months. Women without known cancer or cardiovascular disease at baseline or CHD at year 3 were followed up until CHD diagnosis, date of death, loss to follow-up, or September 30, 2010, whichever occurred first.
Of 104,391 women followed up, 3,381 developed CHD, during an average of 8.8 years. The researchers found that smoking cessation was associated with a lower risk of CHD among postmenopausal women with and without diabetes. Weight gain following smoking cessation weakened this association, especially for women with diabetes who gained 11 lbs. or more, although power was limited in this subgroup due to the small number of cases.