It’s estimated that more than a billion people smoke cigarettes, despite their role in causing disease. Recent studies have shown that 70 percent of smokers are interested in quitting but are concerned that they will gain weight.

For years, the exact link between weight gain and quitting smoking has been unclear. In a recent study published in Nature, Weizmann Institute of Science researchers say the culprit may be weight-modulating compounds released by gut microbes.

The researchers found that mice regularly exposed to cigarette smoke failed to gain weight, despite consuming a diet high in fat and sugar. When the smoke exposure stopped, the mice rapidly gained weight. But when the mice were given broad-spectrum antibiotics that depleted their microbiome, they gained much less weight after undergoing smoking cessation, staying slim for months regardless of their diet.

The scientists believe that smoking-related compounds such as nicotine penetrated the gut of the smoke-exposed mice, altering the gut’s bacterial composition and, consequently, the body’s metabolism.

They also assessed the microbiomes of 96 smoking and nonsmoking people. They found marked alterations in the microbiome of smokers, as well as microbial metabolite changes similar to those found in the smoke-exposed mice.

“Our findings exemplify how the host and microbiome act as partners in regulating weight and metabolism,” said immunologist professor Eran Elinav, who headed the research team.

“The compounds we have identified may lead to new treatments that will help people avoid weight gain when quitting smoking. Moreover, these compounds may be further developed into therapies to fight obesity even among nonsmokers.”

This article was first published by Israel21c.

JNS

Support
Jewish News Syndicate


With geographic, political and social divides growing wider, high-quality reporting and informed analysis are more important than ever to keep people connected.

Our ability to cover the most important issues in Israel and throughout the Jewish world—without the standard media bias—depends on the support of committed readers.

If you appreciate the value of our news service and recognize how JNS stands out among the competition, please click on the link and make a one-time or monthly contribution.

We appreciate your support.