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Tobacco and diabetes: what are the effects?

Hand holding a cigarette

Smoking and diabetes (whether type 1 or type 2) has similar effects on overall health. For someone who smokes, the potential complications linked to diabetes are increased. In fact, the risks are cumulative.

This is why the highest European and world public health authorities strongly recommend and encourage people with diabetes to stop smoking and maintain a well-balanced lifestyle.

Nicotine acts directly on the markers of diabetes

It is estimated that cigarettes contain around 400 harmful chemicals, with nicotine being one of the worst offenders. This is because nicotine alters the transportation of glucose to body cells, causing an increase not only in glucose toxicity but also insulin resistance.

Whatever the method used to inhale nicotine (whether standard or electronic cigarettes), more abnormal variations in blood glucose levels are identified in people with diabetes who smoke, compared to non-smoking people with diabetes.

Smoking exacerbates diabetes-related complications

Many of the particles present in tobacco affect the metabolic system. By disrupting the mechanisms regulating the absorption of glucose and fats by cells, and by altering the lining of blood vessels, smoking contributes to the development of cardiovascular complications.

Rest assured: all of these imbalances can decrease and in some cases disappear over time if you decide to stop smoking. Several studies have shown that by quitting tobacco, the conditions previously identified in lipid profile and glycaemia tests can be corrected .

If necessary, talk to your GP about solutions to help you stop smoking.

Sources

  1. Kar D, Gillies C, Zaccardi F, Webb D, Seidu S, Tesfaye S, Davies M, Khunti K. Relationship of cardiometabolic parameters in non-smokers, current smokers, and quitters in diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Cardiovasc Diabetol. 2016 Nov 24;15(1):15.
  2. Campagna D, Alamo A, Di Pino A, Russo C, Calogero AE, Purrello F, Polosa R. Smoking and diabetes: dangerous liaisons and confusing relationships. Diabetol Metab Syndr. 2019 Oct 24;11:85.
  3. Calcaterra V, Winickoff JP, Klersy C, Schiano LM, Bazzano R, Montalbano C, Musella V, Regalbuto C, Larizza D, Cena H. Smoke exposure and cardio-metabolic profile in youth with type 1 diabetes. Diabetol Metab Syndr. 2018 Jul 6;10:53.
  4. Feodoroff M, et al. Smoking and progression of diabetic nephropathy in patients with type 1 diabetes. Acta Diabetol. 2016.
  5. Feodoroff M, et al. Dose-dependent effect of smoking on risk of coronary heart disease, heart failure and stroke in individuals with type 1 diabetes. Diabetologia. 2018.
  6. Kar D, Gillies C, Nath M, Khunti K, Davies MJ, Seidu S. Association of smoking and cardiometabolic parameters with albuminuria in people with type 2 diabetes mellitus: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Acta Diabetol. 2019 Aug;56(8):839-850.
  7. Pan A, Wang Y, Talaei M, Hu FB. Relation of Smoking With Total Mortality and Cardiovascular Events Among Patients With Diabetes Mellitus: A Meta-Analysis and Systematic Review. Circulation. 2015 Nov 10;132(19):1795-804.
  8. Braffett BH, Rice MM, Young HA, Lachin JM. Mediation of the association of smoking and microvascular complications by glycemic control in type 1 diabetes. PLoS One. 2019 Jan 7;14(1):e0210367.
  9. Lambrinou E, Hansen TB, Beulens JW. Lifestyle factors, self-management and patient empowerment in diabetes care. Eur J Prev Cardiol. 2019 Dec;26(2_suppl):55-63.

About Making Diabetes Easier

Air Liquide Healthcare UK is committed to improving quality of life for people with diabetes. Our healthcare teams provide patients and their loved ones with education, support and personalisation of care.

Our mission? #makingdiabeteseasier

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