Smoking raises the risk of type 2 diabetes and exacerbates the challenges of managing this complex condition.
Studies have shown that people who smoke cigarettes are 30–40% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than non-smokers. When looking at it from a different angle, about 25% of people who have diabetes smoke.
Let’s explore the connection between diabetes and smoking and the benefits of quitting.
Impact on Insulin Function
Nicotine, a highly addictive substance in tobacco, raises blood sugar levels and reduces insulin sensitivity. This double whammy can disrupt the delicate balance of blood sugar regulation, making it harder for individuals to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
Aggravation of Diabetes Complications
For those already living with diabetes, smoking can worsen the condition and increase the risk of complications.
Diabetic Nephropathy and Retinopathy
Tobacco use can worsen diabetic nephropathy (kidney damage) and retinopathy (eye damage), two common complications of diabetes. Smoking reduces blood flow to vital organs and increases inflammation, making these complications more likely and severe.
Individuals who smoke and have diabetes are more likely to develop cardiovascular diseases like heart attacks and strokes. The combination of diabetes and smoking creates a dangerous synergy that increases the risk of these life-threatening conditions.
The High Cost of Poorly Managed Diabetes and Smoking
Poorly managed diabetes can lead to acute complications, necessitating frequent visits to the emergency room. These interventions lead to escalated healthcare expenses owing to intensive treatments, medications, and prolonged hospitalizations.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), individuals with diabetes who smoke experience healthcare costs that are 62% higher than those who have never smoked and 27% higher than individuals who used to smoke.
A recent study has revealed that Americans with diabetes spend an average of $16,700 annually on healthcare costs, a staggering 2.3 times higher than those without diabetes. For individuals with diabetes who also smoke, these costs can skyrocket even further, emphasizing the urgent need to break free from tobacco addiction.
The Benefits of Quitting Smoking for Diabetes
Quitting smoking enhances blood sugar control, reduces complications, and makes diabetes medications more effective. Additionally, quitting promotes faster wound healing. This is especially crucial for individuals with diabetes, who are more prone to slow-healing wounds.
Moreover, quitting can decrease the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the first place.
The connection between smoking and type 2 diabetes is undeniable. Smoking raises the risk of developing diabetes and complicates its management, leading to more severe complications and higher healthcare costs.
However, by quitting smoking, individuals with diabetes can regain control of their health, achieve better diabetes management, and reduce the risk of complications. This improves their quality of life and alleviates the burden of healthcare costs associated with poorly managed diabetes and smoking.
- Clair C, et al. (2013). Smoking Behavior Among US Adults with Diabetes or Impaired Fasting Glucose. amjmed.com/article/S0002-9343(13)00102-2/fulltext
- Selya A, et al. (2020). Smoking Is Associated With a Higher Risk of Unplanned Medical Visits Among Adult Patients With Diabetes, Using Retrospective Electronic Medical Record Data From 2014 to 2016. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7204008/
- Smoking and Diabetes. (n.d.). cdc.gov/tobacco/sgr/50th-anniversary/pdfs/fs_smoking_diabetes_508.pdf
- Smoking and Diabetes. (2022). cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/diseases/diabetes.html
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