New evidence from genetic data links obesity with increased risk of smoking
A study by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) provides new evidence that increased weight and obesity may result in increased smoking. The study, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) and funded by Cancer Research UK (CRUK), found that increased body mass index (BMI), body fat percentage, and waist circumference were associated both with a higher risk of being a smoker and with greater smoking intensity, measured by the number of cigarettes smoked per day. These results were consistent in both men and women.
In contrast to previous studies evaluating the relationship between body weight and smoking behavior, this study was based on genetic markers of obesity using UK Biobank data with genetic information on nearly 450 000 participants.
“Based on genetic markers of obesity, the study allows us to better understand the complex relationship between obesity and important smoking habits such as smoking initiation and intensity, as well as the impact of obesity on smoking cessation,” says Dr Paul Brennan, one of the authors of the article. “The study also suggests that the link between BMI and tobacco exposure may originate in a common biological basis for addictive behaviours, such as nicotine addiction and higher energy intake.”