Are you thinking about ‘kicking the habit’ but worried about getting fat? Weight gain is a side effect many smokers use as an excuse for not quitting. According to a new study, scientists believe they've found a path in the brain where nicotine suppresses appetite.  Nicotine works on several brain receptors including those that contribute to addictive behavior.

A team led by psychiatrist Marina Picciotto of Yale University School of Medicine found that nicotine binds to receptors attached to appetite regulating neurons that send ‘I'm full’ messages after a meal, thus regulating how much you eat.  The study was conducted with mice.

These findings help explain why smokers aren't as hungry when they smoke and tend to stay thinner while on the bad habit. Many smokers tend to eat more when they quit, typically gaining an average of about five pounds.

Scientists involved in the study believe worries about weight gain should never keep anyone from quitting smoking.  After all, the habit is known to cause cancer, heart disease and other health problems.  

Marina Picciotto says that understanding how nicotine works on brain cells could lead to better smoking cessation strategies that help people to pledge to quit.