(NEW YORK) -- Medical experts have long expressed the health risks that come with smoking as well as with weight gain. But what if you gain weight after kicking your smoking habit? For some, the extra pounds can be a deterrent for quitting.
But a new study finds that quitting smoking could greatly reduce your risk of death, regardless of possible weight gain. In fact, quitters had half the chance of experiencing a heart attack, stroke or cardiovascular disease, despite carrying an average weight gain of about six pounds.
The study, which is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), examined over 3,000 participants in the Framingham Offspring Study, which began in 1971. Dr. Michael Fiore wrote an editorial for JAMA accompanying the research, which included people with and without diabetes. For both groups, the findings were similar, he said. Among people without diabetes, long-term quitters were 68 percent less likely to have a heart attack. For people with diabetes, long-term quitters 60 percent less likely.
"Diabetes and smoking together are particular deadly as a combination. Thus, even if you're a diabetic, you should quit smoking," Fiore cautioned.
According to Fiore, lighting up is not as popular as it used to be with the rates of smoking among adults in the United States falling dramatically over the last 50 years. But, he said, "We still have 44 million Americans who smoke and we know that one of out every five deaths in the United States [is] directly caused by smoking."
"The best thing you can do for your health is to successfully quit and even though none of us want to gain weight, even a little bit of weight gain still results in important health benefits," he said.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio