It comes as no surprise to anyone reading this blog that smoking is bad for your health. Interestingly, the risk goes far beyond cancer risk and heart disease – smoking has an important impact on diabetes as well.

As reviewed by Patasi and Hall, several studies have demonstrated that smoking increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes 2- to 3- fold. The likely reason behind this fact is that smoking decreases the body’s ability to use insulin. In fact, smoking 1 cigarette reduces the body’s ability to use insulin by 15% for an entire day! We also see that amongst patients with type 2 diabetes, smokers have higher blood sugars than nonsmokers.

Vascular disease is a complication of both smoking and diabetes, so it should come as no surprise that having both risk factors compounds the risk. Smoking diabetics are more than 10 times more likely to develop peripheral vascular disease than nonsmoking diabetics, and also have a higher risk of small vessel diabetic complications such as nerve, eye, and kidney damage. Smoking can also lead to impotence amongst diabetic men. And that’s not all – the list goes on.

Given that we know that smoking increases the risk of several cancers as well as the risk of vascular disease, and that 80% of diabetics will die as a result of heart disease or stroke, smoking and diabetes are truly a deadly combination.

Dr Sue Pedersen © 2011

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