Once upon a time, there was a diabetes medication called dulaglutide, also known by its brand name Trulicity.
This medicine, originally designed to help people with diabetes, turned out to have another surprising benefit: it could help women avoid gaining a lot of weight when they stop smoking.
For many years, doctors noticed something interesting – when people quit smoking, they often gain weight. This was especially true for women.
In fact, women were five times more likely than men to gain a significant amount of weight after they put out their last cigarette.
This weight gain was not just a minor issue. For some women, the fear of getting heavier was so strong that it could lead them to start smoking again.
In an exciting twist, researchers found that dulaglutide could help with this problem. They looked at a group of 255 adults, including 155 women, who wanted to quit smoking.
These people were not young – they were mostly in their early forties and had been smoking around 20 cigarettes a day for about 20 years.
To help them quit, these adults were given two things: a weekly injection of either dulaglutide or a fake treatment, and a daily dose of another drug called varenicline. They also received advice and support to stop smoking.
Dulaglutide works by copying what a hormone in our stomach does. This hormone, called GLP-1, is released when we eat and helps control blood sugar and how much we weigh.
At the beginning of the study, the average weight of the women was just over 72 kilograms, while the men weighed about 92.5 kilograms. After 12 weeks of treatment, the researchers saw some fascinating results.
Women who received dulaglutide lost about 1 to 2 kilograms. In contrast, women who got the fake treatment gained about 2 to 2.5 kilograms. Men also benefited from dulaglutide, but their weight changes were smaller.
Interestingly, while both men and women gained weight after quitting smoking, women were more likely to gain a lot. However, dulaglutide significantly reduced this risk.
In the group getting the fake treatment, 24% of women gained a lot of weight, compared to only 1% of women treated with dulaglutide.
Despite these differences in weight, the rate of successfully quitting smoking was about the same for both men and women, and quite high – around 63% to 65%.
The researchers were intrigued by these findings. They suggested that dulaglutide could be a helpful extra treatment for people, especially women, who are worried about gaining too much weight after they stop smoking.
It could also be useful for people who have tried to quit before but started smoking again due to weight gain.
In the end, this study gave hope to many. It showed that with the right help, quitting smoking without fearing major weight gain could be possible. This discovery was not just about losing weight – it was about gaining health, one breath at a time.
If you care about smoking, please read studies about smoking may increase heart disease risk by 200% and e-cigarette smoke may cause lung cancer and bladder disease.
The research findings can be found in BMJ Nutrition Prevention & Health.
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