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Smokers beware of type 2 diabetes

Smoking and type 2 diabetes
Smoking and type 2 diabetes
Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

The CDC and the acting surgeon general of the United States, Boris Lushniak, M.D., M.P.H. have announced that tobacco smokers are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. The relationship between tobacco smokers and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes has been studied for several years. For example, in 2001 in the journal, Diabetes Care researchers published the results of an empirical study finding that smoking is a modifiable risk factor for type 2 diabetes.

The 2001 study found that the risk for developing diabetes is modifiable after the smoker stops smoking accompanied by regular moderate physical activity and a dietary plan to offset the tendency for weight gain following smoking cessation. Although weight gain is seen as a risk factor for type 2 diabetes, the benefits of not smoking outweigh the risks of weight gain following smoking cessation. With the implementation of regular activity/exercise and a healthy diet plan weight gain can be minimized or totally negated. Researchers also found that if smokers switched to cigars and/or pipes their risk for developing type 2 diabetes remained the same.

Smokers who already have diabetes are at increased risk for serious health problems including: • Retinopathy which is an eye disease that can lead to blindness • Heart and kidney disease • Poor blood flow in the legs and feet possibly leading to infections, ulcers and potential amputation • Peripheral neuropathy which is nerve damage to arms and legs causing numbness, pain and poor coordination

For smokers, smoking cessation benefits overall health immediately. Whether an individual is a current smoker with diabetes or a current smoker who is at risk for developing type 2 diabetes, smoking cessation makes sense.

The acting surgeon general reported that following smoking cessation, the risk for developing type 2 diabetes drops to a level similar to nonsmokers within five to 12-years. This is great news and fits in with the fact that the risk factor of smoking, and developing type 2 diabetes, is modifiable when the smoker stops smoking.

In health psychology we attempt to balance the psychology of a behavior with the health of the behavior. Understanding that nicotine is a powerful drug leading to dependence, the act of stopping is not easy but doable. Start a discussion with your medical professional and move forward with a program to stop smoking. You will feel better and save money.

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