If a daily activity increased your likelihood of developing a chronic disease by 40 percent, would you take steps to cut it out of your life? The simple answer is probably yes — but when the activity is smoking, it’s not so straightforward.
Healthcare providers and public health professionals are making a push to raise awareness about the links between smoking and diabetes.
In a letter to the editor published in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise on Jan. 13, 2020, Danielle O’Mara wrote about how smoking and nicotine use increase the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes; the team at the North Country Healthy Heart Network wishes to reiterate that message.
Research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Office on Smoking and Health now indicates that smokers have a 30 to 40 percent higher risk of developing diabetes than nonsmokers. Studies also show that individuals who already have diabetes can maintain greater control of insulin levels by quitting — in fact, insulin can become more effective at lowering blood sugar levels as soon as eight weeks after you stop using nicotine.
When you start smoking, the chemicals in your cigarettes injure your body’s cells, leading to inflammation. It also creates a condition known as oxidative stress, which damages cells and may increase the chance of developing diabetes. Smoking can also lead to more belly fat, which promotes production of cortisol — a hormone that increases blood sugar.
If you already have Type 2 diabetes, and you smoke, you’re more likely to develop heart and kidney disease, peripheral neuropathy, poor blood flow, and other serious health problems.
We thank Danielle O’Mara and others who are working to bring more attention to the damaging links between smoking and diabetes. The Heart Network realizes that quitting smoking is hard — we can connect smokers to resources to help them quit, as well as programs that lower the risk of developing chronic disease. Get in touch to learn more: firstname.lastname@example.org.