Confirmed: Passive smoking makes you fat! Being a non-smoker in today’s world is a great virtue – not harming oneself and not harming others. Indeed, the bad habit is not only noxious to oneself, but to those inadvertently breathing in the smoke. A new research has added yet another negative effect of cigarette smoke on second-hand smokers: the latter gain in weight as a consequence of the smoke affecting metabolism. Fortunately, though, the researchers have found a way to counter the negative outcomes.
Smoking might make people lose weight but the same cannot be said for those breathing in the noxious substances given off from the smoke. Rather, the opposite might be happening: second-hand smoking might actually cause people to take on weight!
A team of scientists tested whether passive smoking causes weight gain. Their aim was to find out the link between cigarette smoke and metabolism, with particular emphasis on how regular smokers grow resistant to insulin, leading to weight gain.
The researchers subjected mice to second-hand smoke, and monitored their metabolism. It was found that the animals quickly gained weight: the smoke caused a lipid known as ceramide to modify the mitochondria found in cells, ultimately leading to a disruption to the normal functioning of the cells by inhibiting their ability to respond normally and favourably to the hormone insulin. In other words, the mice became insulin resistant.
When this happens, the body begins needing more insulin, and fat starts accumulating.
The researchers also dealt with ways to prevent this negative effect of the cigarette smoke on non-smokers. They tried to reverse the process by inhibiting ceramide. They administered some of the mice with myriocin which blocks the ceramide. From then on, these mice did not take on additional weight.
Now, the scientists wish to superimpose the same positive effects onto fellow humans. They are trying to create a ceramide inhibitor which would be safe for humans so that passive smokers, specially children and people working in environments where smoking is permissible, can be protected from the noxious effects.