Naltrexone, a medication being tested to help smokers kick the habit, may also help women avoid the weight gain that is common after quitting. That's according to a study published in Biological Psychiatry, which showed the medication reduced weight gain for up to one year in women smokers who quit.
The study found that for the women who successfully quit smoking, weight gain was reduced by more than half. After three months, those who took naltrexone gained an average of 2.3 pounds while those who took a placebo gained 5.1 pounds.
"When trying to stop smoking, women tend to gain more weight than men and to be more concerned about gaining that weight," said study author Andrea King, at the University of Chicago Medicine. "Women who try to quit may be so worried about putting on weight in the process that they soon give up, and this is less commonly found in men. Adding naltrexone to standard treatment might help women get through that difficult early period."
While tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, obesity is the second leading cause. Ironically, more than 80 percent of those who are able to stop smoking put on at least five pounds in the year after quitting. Up to 25 percent of those who quit gain more than 15 pounds.
"Naltrexone has produced the most promising results to date for helping women who quit smoking gain less weight," King said. "It is possible that the opioid blocker reduces women's tendency to eat high fat and sweet foods when they quit smoking."
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Source: University of Chicago Medical Center