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Ex-smokers are developing Type 2 Diabetes

African-Americans are at a higher risk for diabetes and heart disease.
African-Americans are at a higher risk for diabetes and heart disease.
AP file photo

On Monday, the Annals of Internal Medicine published a study that showed an increased rate of Type 2 Diabetes in former smokers. A former smoker may have a significant weight gain post-quit. This seems to be the cause of the increase.

The study focused on 10,892 middle-aged people, 45% were smokers. The other 55% had never smoked. Of those who kicked the habit during the nine year study, about 1,254 individuals actually developed the disease. This means the ex-smokers were 73% more likely to become diabetic over the first three years after quitting."Based on our analysis, [it's] probably 80% or even 90%," says the study's lead author, Hsin-Chieh (Jessica) Yeh, PhD, an assistant professor of internal medicine and epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Previous studies have shown smokers to be at a higher risk of developing diabetes, anyway. In fact, those who did not stop smoking during the nine year period were found to be at a 31% higher risk than their non-smoking counterparts. African- Americans are at an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease, in general. Smoking will only work to increase this risk.

You may have guessed the cause of this apparent increase. Yes, over-eating is a well known problem ex-smokers face in the immediate months and years after the quit. Weight gain is a very common issue that keeps many from kicking the habit. The extra pounds place added stress on the body and cause the inadequate conversion of glucose into energy. This failure will show up in the form of higher blood sugar levels in the blood.

There is hope! The research also showed that if a person acts to control the weight gain their risk virtually normalizes. After 12 years, the former smokers were at no greater risk than those who had never smoked.

The lesson here is not to keep on smokin'. It is clearly to stop smoking, eat right, and get healthy. Easier said than done? Maybe, but well worth the extra quality and years of life you will gain.

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Resources: Annals of Internal Medicine, American Diabetes Association


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