Diabetes and Smoking
Diabetes is a serious disease which affects nearly twenty million Americans. It is a disease which results when the body does not produce enough insulin to use sugar as it should. Insulin is a hormone produce by the pancreas in order to store and use blood glucose, or sugar found in our blood, which comes from the food we eat. Over time this high blood sugar could result in complications such as heart disease, eye disease, nerve damage, circulatory disease or kidney failure (1). There are two main types of diabetes which are classified as Type 1 and Type 2.
Type 1 affects ten to fifteen percent of Americans diagnosed with diabetes. Type 1 is defined as when the body makes little to no insulin at all. It was previously categorized as “juvenile diabetes” because it used to be found mostly in children and young adults (2). It is managed with insulin therapy, diet, exercise, and other medications as needed.
Type 2 diabetes is more common than Type 1 diabetes. Nearly ninety to ninety-five percent of Americans diagnosed with diabetes fall under this category. Type 2 differs from Type 1 in that the body does produce some insulin, but does not produce enough or the body’s cells are resistant to the action of insulin. In this case blood glucose levels rise and become harmful to the body. Type 2 diabetes is more common in people who are over the age of 40, are overweight, and have a family history of diabetes.
Smoking cigarettes may increase the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes (3). This is because smokers become insulin resistant which affects the body’s blood glucose levels. Individuals that have diabetes and smoke are at higher risk for the complications of diabetes. By quitting smoking, individuals with diabetes could gain better control of their blood sugar levels and reduce the risks of complications.
Diabetes can be prevented and controlled. The greatest prevention of diabetes is healthy living. Regular exercise or physical activity for thirty minutes a day at least five days a week can reduce the risk of diabetes (1). Also eating healthy and regular doctor visits help to prevent diabetes early on. For smokers, the greatest prevention to diabetes is to quit smoking now! The Great American Smokeout is an annual event held on the third Wednesday in November to encourage Americans to stop tobacco smoking. The event challenges people to give up smoking for 24 hours, hoping that this decision will help them stop smoking completely. For help with quitting smoking visit the Great American Smokeout at www.tobaccofree.org. For more information on diabetes go to www.diabetes.org.
- 1.Tri-County Diabetes Alliance, (2014). http://www.tridiabetes.org/index.php/about-diabetes
- 2.American Diabetes Association, (2014) http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/type-2/
- 3.Center for Disease Control and Prevention, (2014). http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/diseases/diabetes.html#how_related
Written by: Courtney Harris, Office of Prevention and Health Communications, Wicomico County Health Department