According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smokers have a 30 to 40 percent higher risk of developing diabetes than non-smokers, and diabetics that smoke have a higher risk of serious health conditions. HCPH encourages smokers, especially diabetic smokers, to take the first step towards improving their health by quitting tobacco.
Diabetes is a disease in which the body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use insulin very well. Insulin is a hormone that allows glucose, or sugar, to enter the body’s cells to be used for energy. People with diabetes must take insulin to help the body absorb glucose.
High nicotine levels in the body decreases insulin’s effectiveness, causing diabetic smokers to need larger doses of insulin to control their blood sugar. According to the CDC, evidence also suggests that smoking causes oxidative stress and inflammation in the body; two factors that may be related to an increased risk of diabetes. In addition, smoking is associated with a high risk of belly fat, another known risk factor for diabetes.
Quitting smoking has many health benefits. For smokers with diabetes, it can reduce the risk of serious health conditions such as heart and kidney disease, poor blood flow that could lead to amputation, retinopathy (eye disease) and peripheral neuropathy (damage to nerves). Plus, in as little as eight weeks after quitting, diabetic smokers may start to notice that insulin is more effective in controlling their blood sugar levels.
A common concern for smokers looking to quit tobacco is fear of weight gain, which is a risk factor for diabetes. Smokers looking to quit should talk to their doctor about their concerns and discuss strategies such as lifestyle counseling, weight management, or speaking with a dietitian.
The Huron County community cessation initiative (CCI) program can help connect those interested in quitting tobacco with the right cessation treatment option to fit their needs. Enroll in HCPH’s free cessation program today by calling 567-244-3269.