Objectives: To investigate, using a Mendelian randomisation approach, whether heavier smoking is associated with a range of regional adiposity phenotypes, in particular those related to abdominal adiposity.
Design: Mendelian randomisation meta-analyses using a genetic variant (rs16969968/rs1051730 in the CHRNA5-CHRNA3-CHRNB4 gene region) as a proxy for smoking heaviness, of the associations of smoking heaviness with a range of adiposity phenotypes.
Participants: 148 731 current, former and never-smokers of European ancestry aged ≥16 years from 29 studies in the consortium for Causal Analysis Research in Tobacco and Alcohol (CARTA).
Primary outcome measures: Waist and hip circumferences, and waist-hip ratio.
Results: The data included up to 66 809 never-smokers, 43 009 former smokers and 38 913 current daily cigarette smokers. Among current smokers, for each extra minor allele, the geometric mean was lower for waist circumference by -0.40% (95% CI -0.57% to -0.22%), with effects on hip circumference, waist-hip ratio and body mass index (BMI) being -0.31% (95% CI -0.42% to -0.19), -0.08% (-0.19% to 0.03%) and -0.74% (-0.96% to -0.51%), respectively. In contrast, among never-smokers, these effects were higher by 0.23% (0.09% to 0.36%), 0.17% (0.08% to 0.26%), 0.07% (-0.01% to 0.15%) and 0.35% (0.18% to 0.52%), respectively. When adjusting the three central adiposity measures for BMI, the effects among current smokers changed direction and were higher by 0.14% (0.05% to 0.22%) for waist circumference, 0.02% (-0.05% to 0.08%) for hip circumference and 0.10% (0.02% to 0.19%) for waist-hip ratio, for each extra minor allele.
Conclusions: For a given BMI, a gene variant associated with increased cigarette consumption was associated with increased waist circumference. Smoking in an effort to control weight may lead to accumulation of central adiposity.