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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1995 Jul;80(7):2181-5.

Impact of chronic cigarette smoking on body composition and fuel metabolism.

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Klinik Schloss Mammern, Switzerland.


Cigarette smoking has been associated with increased upper body fat deposition, as estimated by the waist to hip ratio, which has been shown to be associated with glucose intolerance and dyslipidemia in nonsmoking subjects. Whether smoking is at the origin of central adiposity and its related metabolic disturbances is unclear. Moreover, it is controversial whether smoking influences fuel metabolism. Therefore, young healthy male volunteers smoking more than 10 cigarettes/day for more than 5 yr (n = 14) were compared with nonsmokers (n = 13) matched for age, sex, body mass index, alcohol consumption, physical activity, as well as family history for hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and coronary heart disease. After an overnight fast, blood was drawn for chemistry, body composition was assessed by dual energy x-ray absorptiometry, and fuel metabolism was determined by indirect calorimetry. Nicotine uptake was estimated by 24-h urinary excretion of cotinine. Lean and fat body mass as well as their respective segmental distribution (i.e. arms, trunk, legs, and head), total bone mineral content, resting energy expenditure, and fat, carbohydrate, and protein oxidation were similar between smokers and nonsmokers. In contrast, 24-h urinary cotinine excretion (72.0 +/- 11.4 vs. 0.8 +/- 0.2 mumol/L.24 h; P < 0.001), plasma glucose (4.62 +/- 0.09 vs. 4.25 +/- 0.1 mmol/L; P < 0.01), total cholesterol (4.87 +/- 0.15 vs. 4.27 +/- 0.16 mmol/L; P < 0.02), low density lipoprotein cholesterol (3.05 +/- 0.19 vs. 2.43 +/- 0.16 mmol/L; P < 0.02), and apolipoprotein B concentrations (1.09 +/- 0.11 vs. 0.83 +/- 0.03 mmol/L; P < 0.03) were all higher in smokers than in nonsmokers. In smokers, 24-h urinary cotinine excretion positively correlated with the waist to hip ratio (r = 0.58; P = 0.03) and negatively with hip circumference (r = 0.87; P < 0.001). Moreover, 24-h cotinine excretion positively correlated with fat oxidation (r = 0.57; P = 0.03), but was independent of the other metabolic parameters studied. These results suggest that the dyslipidemia and glucose intolerance observed in smokers are not related to either central obesity or the amount of nicotine inhaled, but, rather, are due to some other component in cigarette smoke. In contrast, in smokers, fat oxidation increases with increasing nicotine uptake, a fact that might account for the often observed weight gain after cessation of smoking, thus suggesting different mechanisms of action of tobacco consumption on cholesterol and glucose metabolism on one side and fat oxidation on the other.

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