Smoking and Diabetes: Find the Connection

Smoking is hazardous for health and especially so for people suffering from Diabetes, according to the latest research. The nicotine present in the cigarettes may prove disastrous for patients of Diabetes.


In a lab experiment researcher proved that nicotine was instrumental in increasing the blood sugar levels. The more the amount of nicotine in the blood the higher the blood sugar was recorded. High blood sugar level makes a person vulnerable to developing diseases like Kidney disease, eye disorders and of course Diabetes.

According to study author Xiao-Chuan Liu, an associate professor in the department of chemistry at California State Polytechnic University in Pomona, “Smoking is really harmful for people with Diabetes. It’s even more harmful to them than to a non-diabetic, this study should encourage people with Diabetes to quit smoking completely, and to realize that it’s the nicotine that’s raising [blood sugar levels].”

For this reason, it’s imperative to restrict the utilization of nicotine replacement products, like patches of nicotine, especially for people with Diabetes, said Liu.

“If you’re using them for a short period of time to quit smoking, that’s OK. But, if you still have this addiction to nicotine and are using this product long-term, it will do harm. Don’t use electronic cigarettes or nicotine gum for a long time. You need to stop nicotine intake,” he added.

This research is going to be presented by Liu on Sunday at an American Chemical Society meeting in Anaheim, California, USA.

It is already understood that smoking aggravated the chances of complications with other diseases in patients with Diabetes, what is yet to be found out is the particular constituent substance of cigarettes that leads to higher risks.

To find out if nicotine, a constituent component and an addictive substance of smoking did indeed increase blood sugar levels, Liu and his associates mixed similar amounts of glucose (sugar) to different samples of human red blood cells. They then added different levels of nicotine to these samples for either a day or two. This was then followed by measurement of A1 (HbA1C) levels in the samples. HbA1C is an indicator of the percentage of red blood cells that have glucose molecules attached to them. In patients with Diabetes it is advised that HbA1C level of 7 % is maintained, according to the guidelines framed by American Diabetes Association.

The researchers observed that nicotine caused the levels of HbA1C to increase. The smallest addition raised the HbA1C by 8.8 %. The maximum addition to the sample that was observed after two days of nicotine presence caused an increase in the blood sugar levels by 34.5 %.

“Nicotine is a toxic substance, and our results show that nicotine caused an increase in HbA1C,” said Liu. “This is important for the public to know, and for smokers to know. It’s not just the cigarette smoke. If you think you can just use a nicotine replacement product indefinitely, there’s still a risk, and your chances of getting complications will be a lot higher,” said Liu.

The research definitely proves that nicotine acts as a catalyst to increase the HbA1C levels in a laboratory, now is the time to check its work inside a human body according to Dr. Joel Zonszein, director of the Clinical Diabetes Center at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City. It is essential to find out if nicotine specifically raises blood sugar levels in smokers. He added, “Everybody — whether they have diabetes or not — should stop smoking. Patients with diabetes already have a much higher risk of cardiovascular disease, and smoking adds to that.”

According to him it was ok to use nicotine replacements for the duration of a month or two. “If nicotine replacement is used for a short period of time with smoking cessation as the goal, there’s no risk. But it’s not OK if someone plans to replace smoking with nicotine replacement products indefinitely,” Zonszein added.

Experts opined that any research presented at meetings is taken to be preliminary unless published in a peer reviewed journal. So there is much journey to be travelled before this research is accepted by the world.

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