Smoking causes diabetes. It also worsens the health of diabetic smokers. Smoking is not the only cause of diabetes, which is a disorder that affects sugar levels in the blood.
There are many types of condition. Type 2 is the most common and affects almost 90% of all people with the disease. Diabetes is treatable with medicine and lifestyle changes. Anyone with the disease who also smokes though has difficulty treating their symptoms. Quitting smoking and losing weight not only improve health but also prevent diabetes.
What Is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a disease that affects blood sugar or glucose in the body. This imbalance can impact a person’s health in many ways. Glucose comes from the food a person eats and is a source of energy. Insulin made by the pancreas turns sugars from food into glucose to absorb it into the blood. Smoking cigarettes is a known risk factor in the causing the disorder.
There are several types of the disorder:
- Type 1 (aka juvenile diabetes) – The pancreas does not produce any insulin. Type 1 is most common in children and teenagers, although young people do develop Type 2 as well.
- Type 2 (aka adult-onset diabetes) – The pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or the insulin does not work. So sugar does not become glucose.
- Prediabetes – A precursor to Type 2, prediabetes is when blood sugar is high but not as high as Type 2 levels. Prediabetes usually becomes Type 2 without treatment.
Having high or low blood sugar causes serious health problems for people afflicted by it, especially if they smoke. Glucose that remains in the blood can harm other parts of the body, like the kidneys and heart.
Diabetics who smoke are also at risk of:
- Losing their sight
- Developing heart disease
- Suffering a stroke
- Losing a limb
People with diabetes do not always know they have the disease. If they do not know, symptoms can appear without warning. Common symptoms include:
- Extreme thirst
- Increased urination
- Extreme hunger
- Chronic fatigue
- Sudden, unexplained weight loss
- Blurred vision
How Does Smoking Affect Diabetes?
Smoking affects diabetes by:
- Increasing the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes in people without the disease
- Increasing the body’s resistance to insulin (insulin resistance)
- Worsening the heart, kidney disease, poor circulation, ulcers on the skin
- Making it more challenging to treat it
Smokers are between 30-40% more likely of developing it over non-smokers. Several studies have proven that smoking leads to the appearance of Type 2 diabetes.
One reason for this is that smoking affects the manner in which insulin works in your body due to nicotine triggering insulin resistance which is one reason why vaping vape juices and e-liquids that contain nicotine is not a good idea for someone suffering from diabetes. Insulin helps glucose enter your body’s cells, providing fuel.
Continued smoking will make diabetes harder to control and make it increasingly difficult to maintain stable blood sugar levels something that even the best vapes will make difficult to do as well.
The chemicals in cigarettes, like nicotine, affect or cause conditions like:
- Inflammation, which can damage cells and disrupt their proper functioning
- Oxidative stress, which mixes chemicals in cigarette smoke with oxygen in the blood
- Abdominal fat, which produces a hormone, cortisol that increases blood sugar levels
These effects of cigarettes raise a person’s chances of developing Type 2 diabetes.
Smoking and Diabetes: Prevention and Treatment
Diabetes is preventable. Some people may have other risk factors, like family history. Others may belong to a group predisposed to developing the condition. Lifestyle plays the most critical role in determining whether someone gets the disease.
Ways people can prevent the onset of high or low blood sugar, or control their symptoms include:
- Not smoking, or quitting smoking
- Eating better, healthier food like whole grains, unprocessed carbohydrates, and good fats
- Daily, or regular exercise
- Losing weight, if overweight or obese
- Moderate alcohol consumption
If someone does develop a high-glucose disorder, they are many options available. The same steps that prevent diabetes can also work to treat or control symptoms of the disease. Things like exercise, weight loss, and stopping smoking can all help manage complications.
For more severe cases of diabetes:
- Insulin injections to either raise or regulate insulin levels
- People may also take medications to help insulin in the body work well
- Medications to control other conditions like high blood pressure and cholesterol
A Preventable Fate
A report released in 2017 by the CDC found that over 100 million Americans have some form of the disorder. They either have prediabetes or Type 2. The same study showed that 1 in 4 of them did not even know they had the disease.
If someone is at risk for developing the condition, a blood test can determine whether they do have it. Smoking-related deaths and premature death caused by diabetes are both preventable. All it takes is a few lifestyle changes. Quitting smoking, for example, not only improves health but stops either outcome.