Hisako Tsuji, M.D.In a small study in Japan, people who stopped smoking didn’t face increased death risk if they gained weight, according to research presented this week at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2014.

“Quitters had a significantly lower risk of death compared to smokers regardless of their weight change after they stopped smoking,” said Hisako Tsuji, M.D., lead author of the study.

Researchers compared deaths from all causes in 1,305 Japanese adults who quit smoking to deaths among 2,803 Japanese smokers. Participants in both groups were 65 percent men, average age 54. They based their findings on check-ups and follow-ups in 1997-2013 at the Health Examination Center of Moriguchi City in Osaka, Japan.

The three groups of quitters were: 362 men and women who experienced no weight gain; 458 who gained no more than 2 kilograms (4 pounds, 6 ounces); and 485 who gained more than 2 kilograms.

Compared to the deaths of smokers, those who quit with no weight gain had a 34 percent lower risk of death; those who gained no more than 2 kilograms had a 49 percent lower risk of death; and those who gained more than 2 kilograms had a 26 percent lower risk of death, after adjustment for age, gender, hypertension, diabetes, and hyperlipidemia.

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