Study Links Smoking to Diabetes
> 5/23/2008 11:24:00 AM


Smoking, the most preventable cause of death worldwide, contributes to a host of serious health conditions, including heart disease, cancer, and stroke. As more researchers investigate the health consequences of smoking, their work points toward another serious connection: smokers may have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

In December 2007, research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association indicated that smokers have a 44 percent greater chance of developing diabetes that nonsmokers, and they also found that this risk varied depending on the number of cigarettes smoked each day. Heavy smokers, those who smoked more than 20 cigarettes a day, had a 61% greater risk when compared to lighter smokers.

The cause of the association between smoking and diabetes may lie with insulin resistance, a condition that leads to type 2 diabetes. Insulin resistance refers to the body’s inability to generate a normal insulin response from muscle, fat, and liver cells. Insulin, a hormone, helps the cells convert glucose, a main source of energy for the body, into fuel, and smoking may somehow interfere with this process. However, the connection between smoking and  diabetes may also be explained by other factors. Smokers tend to engage in other unhealthy behaviors known to contribute to diabetes, such as a sedentary lifestyle, poor diet, and uncontrolled weight gain.

All smokers risk serious consequences, but for diabetics, smoking further increases their already elevated risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, and other health problems. It’s important to remember that smoking is a modifiable risk factor, and by quitting, individuals will not only reduce their chances of developing diabetes, but also improve their overall well-being.


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