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Cigarette smoking may be particularly dangerous for obese people, a new animal study suggests. Researchers found cigarette smoke may affect metabolism, and could increase the risk of cancer in obese people more than in their thinner counterparts. The smoke could also affect the way in which the body metabolizes prescription drugs, they noted.

The study included lung and liver tissues from obese and lean mice, The Huffington Post reports. Some of the tissue samples were exposed to direct smoke or secondhand smoke, while others were not exposed to any smoke.

“Our research shows that smoking and obesity together may pose a triple health threat in addition to the increased risks for heart disease, cancer and diabetes,” study researcher Aaron Wright, PhD, of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, said in a statement. “That dangerous combination impacts key mechanisms by which both the lung and liver perform metabolism. For example, the body’s ability to metabolize prescription drugs may be altered in ways that could make standard dosages too high or too low to be effective in obese people who are exposed to tobacco smoke.”

Dr. Wright added that he and his colleagues were surprised to find that in some instances, the substances in secondhand smoke seem to have a more dramatic effect than just smoking.

The study was presented at the American Chemical Society annual meeting.

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