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Study: Smokers better off quitting, even with weight gain

NEW YORK — If you quit smoking and gain weight, it may seem like you’re trading one set of health problems for another. But a new US study finds you’re still better off in the long run.

Compared with smokers, even the quitters who gained the most weight had at least a 50 percent lower risk of dying prematurely from heart disease and other causes, the Harvard-led study found.

The study is impressive in its size and scope and should put to rest any myth that there are prohibitive weight-related health consequences to quitting cigarettes, said Dr. William Dietz, a public health expert at George Washington University.

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‘‘The paper makes pretty clear that your health improves, even if you gain weight,’’ said Dietz, who
was not involved in the
research.

The nicotine in cigarettes can suppress appetite and boost metabolism.

Many smokers who quit and don’t step up their exercise find that they eat more and gain weight — typically less than 10 pounds, but in some cases three times that much.

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