"According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), increased body mass index (BMI), body fat percentage and even waist circumference are associated with "a higher risk of being a smoker, and with greater smoking intensity, measured by the number of cigarettes smoked per day". These results found that obesity influences smoking behaviour that could have implications for public health interventions aiming to reduce the prevalence of these important risk factors, researchers claimed.
"It is well established that smokers have a lower body weight on average than non-smokers, possibly due to reduced appetite, but that many gain weight after they stop smoking".
"However, among smokers, those who smoke more intensively, tend to weigh more", said IARC.
"Based on comprehensive genetic data from almost 450,000 individuals, our study provides evidence that differences in body mass index and body fat distribution causally influence different aspects of smoking behaviour, including the risk of individuals taking up smoking, smoking intensity, and smoking cessation", the group underscored.
"Based on genetic markers of obesity, the study allows us to better understand the complex relationship between obesity and important smoking habits", said Brennan, one of the authors of the study. They analysed genetic variants with known effects on body mass index (BMI), body fat percentage and waist circumference for almost 450,000 individuals using a technique called Mendelian randomisation. Looking at the genetic information through body mass index avoids numerous problems that can actually afflict the traditional observational studies thus showing less prone results to the confounding factors and make it more reliable.
An association that is observed using Mendelian randomisation is therefore likely to reflect a causal relation. Three measures of smoking behaviour were assessed: current and past smoking, the number of cigarettes smoked per day, and age of smoking initiation. The study included people with average age of 58. The results showed an increase in the BMI by 4.6 kg.m2 with an increased risk of being a smoker in the UK Biobank by 18% and in a 19% in the TAG consortium data.
Interestingly, each standard deviation increase in BMI was also linked to a higher intensity of smoking, marked by smoking 0.88 (95% CI 0.50-1.26, P 0.001) and 1.27 (95% CI 0.46-2.07, P=0.002) more cigarettes per day, in the U.K. Biobank and TAG consortium cohorts, respectively. These types of results were also seen in regards to body fat percentage in men and women both.
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