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Diabetes and Tobacco Use

It is a known fact that smoking poses serious health risks, negatively impacting vital organs like the lungs and the heart.(USDHHS 2014) But did you know that smoking can increase your risk for Type 2 diabetes?(USDHHS 2014)

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease in which the body’s blood sugar levels are abnormally elevated. When digested, carbohydrates from food are turned into a natural sugar called glucose, which is used by the body’s cells for energy. Glucose is ushered into the cells by a hormone called insulin. People with diabetes are unable to make or efficiently use insulin, causing glucose to build up in the blood without making its way to the cells.(CDC 2015)

There are two types of diabetes. The most common of these is Type 2, or adult-onset diabetes, which accounts for more than 90% of all diabetes cases(CDC 2015) and is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.(USDHHS Consumer Booklet 2014) Research has found that smoking is a direct cause of Type 2 diabetes. In fact, smokers are 30-40% more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than nonsmokers, and smoking is responsible for about 9,000 diabetes deaths in the U.S. per year.(USDHHS 2014)

How Does Smoking Affect Diabetes Management?

Diabetes is a serious yet manageable health condition, but smoking can worsen the disease, causing additional problems.(NIDDK 2014) Smokers with diabetes are more likely to have trouble regulating their blood sugar levels with treatment than diabetic nonsmokers. (USDHHS Consumer Booklet 2014) Diabetics who smoke are also at a higher risk for disease complications than nonsmokers with diabetes, including: (CDC 2015) (USDHHS Consumer Booklet 2014)

  • Poor blood circulation in the legs and feet that can lead to infections, ulcers, and even amputation of toes and feet

  • Heart disease

  • Kidney disease

  • Retinopathy (an eye disease which can lead to blindness)

  • Nerve damage in the arms and legs that can cause numbness, pain, weakness, and poor mobility

How Can You Lower Your Risk for Type 2 Diabetes?

  • Don’t start smoking. Smoking increases your chance of having Type 2 diabetes.(NIDDK 2014)

  • If you smoke, lower your risk for Type 2 diabetes by quitting. Find a quitting method that works for you

  • Source

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