Smoking causes, and complicates, Type 2 Diabetes Reply

ASH Scotland Policy and Research Officer, Mike Andrews, writes about the link between tobacco and Type 2 Diabetes.

This month, Diabetes UK published their 2016 State of the Nation report for England, which notes that ‘diabetes is the fastest growing health threat’ and that it is a crisis affecting England. This reminded me that we should be talking more about the links between smoking and Type 2 Diabetes within a Scottish context.

Earlier this year, I compiled a briefing for ASH Scotland that looked at this specific issue. Type 2 Diabetes, which is our concern in this blog, is placing a strain on health services in Scotland, with nearly a quarter of a million people diagnosed in the country, by the end of 2014. There is a high prevalence of smoking in Scotland’s diabetic population.

When I read into research around smoking and Type 2 Diabetes, I found that it causes and complicates the condition. Active smokers have a 30-40% greater chance of developing diabetes and increased smoking intensity increases the risk of diabetes. As a result, reducing tobacco use needs to be promoted to prevent and control on-going diabetic epidemic.

Smoking also aggravates insulin resistance in Type 2 diabetics and nicotine decreases insulin sensitivity, and for those with Type 2 Diabetes there is evidence that smoking increases the risk of chronic heart disease. Finally, male diabetics who smoke, and smoke for a longer time, increase the risk of becoming impotent.

Other key issues for diabetics, such as lower limb amputation and specific eye conditions, are also complicated by smoking, according to research. Beyond that, research has associated second-hand smoke exposure to Type 2 Diabetes as well.

This blog just touches on some key concerns raised for those dealing with diabetes, if they are also smokers. Take another look at our detailed briefing paper (where everything I’ve said above is fully referenced), and also our one page fast facts paper, for relevant information about the links I’ve discussed.


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