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Secondhand Smoke Promotes Weight Gain

As if secondhand smoke didn't do enough harm - increasing the risk of lung cancer, other respiratory diseases, heart disease and stroke - it can also make you put on fatty tissue and is particularly hard on kids. Researchers from Brigham Young University wanted to know why smokers become insulin resistant, which leads to weight gain, so they exposed mice to secondhand smoke and observed them for changes in their physiology. The mice exposed to the smoke soon began to put on weight, and further research showed that the smoke disrupted normal cell function. The mechanism appears to involve triggering a constituent of fat called ceramide, which alters the metabolism of mitochondria, inhibiting their ability to respond normally to insulin. Once you become insulin resistant, your body needs and produces more insulin to meet metabolic needs, which drives weight gain. The researchers were able to inhibit ceramide in mice with a substance called myriocin and are now trying to find a ceramide inhibitor that is safe and effective for humans.