It is no secret that smoking is bad for you. Hundreds of studies have been published on the topic, and most folks can let you know the hazards of smoking without even googling it. But in case you have diabetes and smoke, that is a whole other ball game. Diabetes in itself may cause severe complications that have heart disease, stroke, circulation issues, nerve damage (neuropathy), kidney disease and more; smoking increases the risk of developing these complications. Sometimes, smoking may even double the risk of developing these conditions, besides doubling the chances of suffering from erectile dysfunction. Additionally, smoking makes diabetes-management a whole lot harder, as blood sugars tend to be high.
How does smoking increase the risk of diabetes-related complications?
Diabetes and smoking increase the risk of developing heart disease in a similar manner- both higher sugar levels and smoking harm the arteries and alleviate accumulation of fatty deposits in “pockets” on artery walls. That, in turn, causes blood vessels to narrow and make blood flow more difficult. Heart attacks happen when this happens in coronary arteries (arteries that bring oxygen to the heart), and strokes when this happens in blood vessels in the brain.
Scientists have known for quite a while that individuals with diabetes who smoke have significantly high glucose levels, and their diabetes is much more difficult to control and handle. However, what component or components of cigarettes cause blood glucose levels to increase?
Recently, a research group based in California found that smoking is the main culprit in cigarettes when referring to elevated blood glucose levels. Nicotine, when added to human blood samples, elevated levels of hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), and the nicotine that was present, the higher the blood glucose levels were. The lowest dose increased HbA1C levels by 8.8 percent. The maximum dose — after two weeks of nicotine treatment — increased blood glucose levels by 34.5 percent! The degree of nicotine used in the analysis were equal to those located in a smoker’s body from light smokers to quite heavy smokers.
HbA1C is a measure of the proportion of red blood cells that have sugar molecules attached to them. In diabetes management, the HbA1C — sometimes referred to only as A1C –gives doctors an notion of average blood glucose levels for the previous 3 months roughly. Most people with diabetes try to find a level of 7 percent or less, based on American Diabetes Association guidelines.
These preliminary results shed light on how smoking causes blood glucose levels to grow, but more studies are needed to confirm the data from people. What’s certain is that if you have diabetes and you smoke, your blood glucose will be higher and more difficult to control. Just take this into consideration and test more often to see for yourself.
These results also imply that nicotine replacement goods are not a secure option for individuals with diabetes when used for extended intervals, since they may increase HbA1c levels just as cigarettes do. So if you have diabetes and are attempting to quit- cold turkey is the best option for you.
Can smoking lead to developing diabetes?
Smoking is an established risk factor for insulin resistance, which often leads to diabetes. According to a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, smoking around a pack of cigarettes a day increases your risk for type two diabetes fold. So yes, smoking may lead to diabetes, among all of the other potential health dangers smoking caries. So if you’re a smoker, also have other risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes, you’re going down a slippery slope.
-written by Liran Julia Grunhaus