I am sure it would not surprise you to hear that smoking is bad for you. Yep, it's true. Smoking has been linked to everything from emphysema to asthma and of course to lung cancer. What might surprise you, however, is a recent study that indicates that smoking and second hand smoke has been linked to insulin resistance in some individuals which is a direct pre-cursor to diabetes.
The recently completed study, while it doesn't prove that smoking can cause diabetes, did show some pretty significant evidence that smoking and being exposed to smoke can possibly play a role in a person developing glucose intolerance. More than 4600 individuals were included in the study. The participants were both black and white with a mix of about 45% men and 55% women. When the study kicked off, everyone included was between 18 and 30 years old. The study continued for 15 years while data was collected. Individuals in the study received yearly telephone calls to monitor their status as it related to smoking. The surprising results were just recently released to BMJ Online, an international medical journal.
The study showed that based on the outgoing interviews, the highest population of the group that showed insulin resistance or diagnosed diabetes were the ones who were active smokers. The second highest group was the individuals who simply had contact with second hand smoke. The third group was those who were claimed ex smokers and finally, those who had never smoked.
Some opponents of the study cited that of the 4600 participants, many other factors existed that were not taken into consideration including weight, diet, overall body type, consumption of alcohol and other factors. Researchers dispute this fact when having put that data into the study, the percentages of the results remained the same. Several explanations have been given for why smoking may lead to diabetes but they are inconclusive at this time. They include:
Smoking causes uneven weight distribution which can cause the body to function inefficiently raising the potential of irregular blood sugars and
Smoking regularly can damage the pancreas which produces insulin. Once the pancreas is damaged, insulin production can slow down or even stop. This process can lead to low levels of glucose in the blood stream which can then lead to diabetes.
While this study is inconclusive at this time, this is yet another potential risk factor of smoking. There has yet to be a study that has proven that smoking has any POSITIVE health benefits and now that the potential exists that smoking or exposing ourselves to smoke may increase the possibility of developing insulin resistance or even diabetes, there is even more reason to quit smoking or never start. If the information in this study proves true, then this may encourage some individuals to quote for the sheer fact that by smoking around friends and loved ones, they are exposing them to a health hazard that could lead to a lifetime of medication, treatment, or in worst case scenarios, death.