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Will quitting smoking help prevent diabetes?

The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) is encouraging residents to combat the risk of diabetes by maintaining healthy habits and quitting smoking. According to a 2014 report released by the Surgeon General, smoking is shown to be an actual cause of diabetes and a risk factor for poor control of blood glucose or blood sugar. The report, released in January, The Health Consequences of Smoking: 50 Years of Progress, explains that smokers are 30-40 percent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than people who do not smoke.

“Smoking negatively impacts blood flow making it even more difficult to control blood glucose levels,” said Dr. Matthew Davis, chief medical executive for the MDCH. “The more cigarettes smoked, the higher the risk of diabetes. The good news is that by quitting smoking today you can lower your risk of developing diabetes and other chronic diseases over time.”

_HEA-smoking-and-diabetes-webIn 2012, one out of ten Michigan adults were diagnosed with diabetes. An additional 250,000 were thought to already have the disease but were not yet diagnosed. More than a third of Michigan adults were already at high risk with a condition called prediabetes.

Diabetes is a word used for several conditions where blood glucose levels are too high. When a person eats, most of the food is turned into energy in the form of glucose. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, keeps glucose levels in normal ranges by helping glucose move from the blood into the body’s cells where it is used for energy. In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas makes very little or no insulin. In type 2 diabetes, insulin that is still being made is not working as well as it should to keep blood glucose levels down.

Some people are at risk for diabetes, particularly type 2, and don’t know it. Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include: a family history of the disease, being overweight, physical inactivity, high blood pressure, age, and a history of gestational (during pregnancy) diabetes for women. The Surgeon General’s report makes it clear that smoking is a cause for type 2 diabetes as well. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease and most commonly develops in children or young adults.

Diabetes can cause serious damage to organs and nerves. Heart attacks, strokes, blindness, amputations, and infections are well-known complications. Regardless of the type of diabetes, smoking makes it more difficult to control blood glucose levels. Smoking negatively impacts blood flow resulting in similar complications and compounds the risks caused by diabetes.

Learn how to prevent or manage diabetes. Connect with a local Diabetes Self-Management Education Program or learn more at www.michigan.gov/diabetes. For smoking cessation resources, contact the Michigan Tobacco Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit www.michigan.gov/tobacco.

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