Smoking and Diabetes: A Lethal Alliance

smoking and diabetesSmoking cigarettes is bad news for anyone’s health.  But a number of studies show that smoking, as well as leading to a number of cancers, emphysema, bronchitis, strokes and heart disease, is also associated with type 2 diabetes.  In fact smokers have half again as much risk of developing diabetes as non-smokers.


Quite a lot of research has been carried out into the relationship between smoking and a higher risk of developing diabetes, and scientists feel smoking may actually cause glucose intolerance by itself.  Smoking leads to insulin resistance, one of the first symptoms of diabetes, or to insufficient production of insulin, the hormone needed to metabolize sugar from the diet.

Even the number of cigarettes you smoke a day will affect your likelihood of getting diabetes, with light smokers being less likely and heavy smokers much more at risk.  A study recently published in the American Medical Association’s journal even put a figure on this: that people who smoke more than 15 cigarettes a day have a 61% higher risk of getting diabetes than those who smoke 15 or less.

Added to this, if a patient continues smoking after he has been diagnosed with diabetes, his chances of staying healthy are much reduced.  Like smoking, diabetes increases the risk of dying from heart disease and strokes, raises blood pressure and adversely affects blood cholesterol levels.  With smoking and diabetes both affecting your health, the chances of making old bones are much slimmer.  And smoking also increases the risks of many other complications that go with diabetes, including renal disease, blindness and nerve damage that can lead to gangrene and amputation.  To pile on more bad news, smoking will make it harder for a diabetic to recover from surgery and make him much more prone to infection.  Diabetes and smoking both inhibit the immune system and leave the patient vulnerable to all sorts of infections.

Type 2 diabetes is strongly associated with overweight and obesity, yet tobacco is an appetite suppressant which women have been known to smoke to keep their weight down.  Clearly its many health risks outweigh this one small benefit.

Whether or not you are diabetic, quitting smoking will improve your health and give you a better chance of living longer and staying healthy into old age.  Nicotine is a poison which inhibits circulation and can, like diabetes, cause gangrene as the extremities are cut off from the blood supply.  Just as with diabetes, amputation is an unfortunate but common medical outcome of smoking.

Research has shown that support gives a smoker much better incentive to quit and increases his likelihood of giving up successfully.  Plenty of groups, websites and hotlines exist to help you and products on the market which could help include nicotine patches and gum, realistic cigarettes, including nicotine inhalers, and nasal sprays.  Herbal remedies, hypnosis and acupuncture have all been shown to be effective in helping some people to stop smoking, and if you really need help your doctor can prescribe medication that will help.

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