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Smoking, Diabetes

Diabetes and Smoking

If you smoke, you have higher blood sugars, period. That makes diabetes more difficult to control and more likely to have complications like neuropathy.

If you have diabetes and smoke, you are:

  • More likely to experience nerve damage and kidney disease
  • Three times more likely to die of cardiovascular-related complications than non-smokers with diabetes
  • More likely to have problems maintaining proper blood sugar levels, because smoking raises blood sugar

California State Polytechnic University’s Xiao-Chuan Liu presented the results of his study of blood samples from smokers. His study shows that nicotine raised HbA1C levels by 34% in non-diabetic smokers. There currently is no study for diabetic smokers.

Smoking also contributes to hardening of the arteries, further compromising the blood’s ability to carry oxygen throughout the body.

The combination of smoking and high blood glucose increase s damage to blood vessels that supply the brain, eyes, heart, kidneys, and peripheral nerves – speeding up complications of diabetes.

According to the American Heart Association about 22% of adults with diabetes smoke, even though U.S. research indicates that the most harmful effect of smoking is linked to a significantly higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

The University of Lausanne (Lausanne, Switzerland) analyzed studies involving more than one million patients and discovered smoking leads to a 44% higher chance of developing Type 2 diabetes compared with non-smokers. They also found the risk increases with the average number of cigarettes smoked daily.

The risk of diabetes climbed to 61% for those who smoke an average of one pack per day, according to The Journal of the American Medical Association. The risk of developing diabetes for lighter smokers was still 29%, and nearly as high in former smokers (23%) when compared to non-smokers.


Medical News Today
Center for Disease Control
American Diabetes Association
American Heart Association
American Cancer Society