The paper in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research, is thefirst longitudinal study on the relationship between fruit andvegetable consumption and smoking cessation. The authors, from theUniversity of Buffalo’s School of Public Health and HealthProfessions, surveyed 1.000 smokers aged 25 and older from aroundthe country, using random-digit dialing telephone interviews. Theyfollowed up with the respondents fourteen months later, asking themif they had abstained from tobacco use during the previousmonth.
“Other studies have taken a snapshot approach, asking smokersand nonsmokers about their diets,” says Gary A. Giovino, PhD, chairof the Department of Community Health and Health Behavior on theuniversity website. “We knew from our previous work that people whowere abstinent from cigarettes for less than six months consumedmore fruits and vegetables than those who still smoked. What wedidn’t know was whether recent quitters increased their fruit andvegetable consumption or if smokers who ate more fruits andvegetables were more likely to quit.”
Improve the diet, stupid!
The UB study found that smokers who consumed the most fruit andvegetables were three times more likely to be tobacco-free for atleast 30 days at follow-up 14 months later than those consuming thelowest amount of fruits and vegetables. They also found thatsmokers with higher fruit and vegetable consumption smoked fewercigarettes per day, waited longer to smoke their first cigarette ofthe day and scored lower on a common test of nicotinedependence.
“We may have identified a new tool that can help people quitsmoking,” says Jeffrey P. Haibach, first author on the paper andgraduate research assistant in the UB Department of CommunityHealth and Health Behavior. “Granted, this is just an observationalstudy, but improving one’s diet may facilitate quitting.”
Several explanations are possible, such as less nicotinedependence for people who consume a lot of fruits and vegetables orthe fact that higher fiber consumption from fruits and vegetablesmake people feel fuller. “It is also possible that fruits andvegetables give people more of a feeling of satiety or fullness sothat they feel less of a need to smoke, since smokers sometimesconfuse hunger with an urge to smoke,” explains Haibach.