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Smoking and Diabetes

Everyone knows cigarette smoking is bad for you, but did you know it can lead to type 2 diabetes? And if you have diabetes, smoking can make it much worse. Learn how they’re connected and why quitting is one of the best things you can do for your health.

How Smoking Can Lead to Type 2 Diabetes

  • Insulin helps blood sugar enter cells, but nicotine changes cells so they don’t respond to insulin, which increases blood sugar levels.

  • Chemicals in cigarettes harm cells in your body and cause inflammation. This also makes cells stop responding to insulin.

  • People who smoke have a higher risk of belly fat, which increases the risk for type 2 diabetes even if they aren’t overweight.

All in all, if you smoke, you’re 30% to 40% more likely to get type 2 diabetes than people who don’t smoke. The more you smoke, the higher your risk.

If You Have Diabetes

Managing diabetes is challenging, and smoking can make it even more so. Nicotine increases your blood sugar levels and makes them harder to handle. People with diabetes who smoke often need larger doses of insulin to keep their blood sugar close to their target levels.

Diabetes causes serious health complications such as heart disease, kidney failure, blindness, and nerve damage that can lead to amputation (removal by surgery) of a toe, foot, or leg. If you have diabetes and smoke, you’re more likely to have complications—and worse complications—than people who have diabetes and don’t smoke.

Heart disease deserves special attention. It’s the leading cause of death in the United States, and both smoking and diabetes increase your risk. Over time, high blood sugar from diabetes can damage blood vessels as well as nerves in and around your heart. Cigarette smoking can damage blood vessels too by increasing plaque (a fatty, waxy substance that builds up on your artery walls).

Quitting Smoking

The National Council Against Smoking offers telephonic counselling to people who want to stop smoking. Call our Quitline: 0117203145

This article originally appeared at the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention website


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