How Does Smoking Impact Diabetes? Here Are the Facts.
Does using tobacco raise my chance of developing diabetes?
We’re often taught about the risks of smoking that relate to cancer and stroke, but we rarely hear that smoking also increases your risk of diabetes. Below are a few common questions and answers to help you navigate your journey to better health.
1. How much does tobacco increase my risk of diabetes?
Smokers have a 30-40% higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes than nonsmokers. This is because tobacco causes a higher concentration of cortisol — a stress hormone that impacts your overall health — and increases inflammation in the body. These two things combined can lead to abdominal obesity, which is a risk factor for diabetes.
2. What if I already have diabetes?
Studies show that when individuals with diabetes are exposed to high levels of nicotine, their blood vessels harden — and insulin becomes less effective. Tobacco users with diabetes are more likely to face additional health challenges as well, such as:
- Heart and kidney disease
- Poor blood circulation that can lead to ulcers, infection and even amputation of the feet or legs
- Eye disease linked to blindness
- Nerve damage in the arms and legs, leading to weakness, numbness, pain and poor coordination
3. What will happen when I quit smoking?
The health benefits of quitting tobacco begin right away — whether you have diabetes or not. Individuals with diabetes who quit have an easier time controlling their blood sugar, and insulin becomes more effective eight weeks after quitting. To see a complete list of how your body reacts to quitting tobacco, check out this blog post!
4. When I’m ready to quit, where should I start?
No matter where you’re at on your quit journey, the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline has FREE resources to help you succeed, such as:
- A free supply of patches, gum or lozenges
- Coach support through text messages or phone calls
- Online resources such as a personalized Dashboard, live group sessions and encouraging emails
- Quit tips and craving busters to help fight temptation
Remember: You are not alone on this journey, and the results will be beyond worth it. Keep your head up, power through and sign up when you’re ready!