NOV 17, 2018 11:06 AM PST

Tobacco Smoke Associated With Increased Risk Of Diabetes

WRITTEN BY: Abbie Arce

There are a number of risk factors for heart disease. Many of them are within our control, for example, a healthy diet and being physically active. Others we cannot change, such as age or having a family history of heart disease. Of the risk factors for which we are responsible, like smoking, the association with the heart is still being uncovered. New research indicates that the influence smoking has on the heart may come, at least in part, from its likelihood of increasing a person's risk of diabetes or glucose intolerance. 

The CARDIA (coronary artery risk development in young adults) study began in 1985 and included 15 years of follow-up. Those selected to participate were adults with no glucose intolerance at the start of the study. Participants were separated into four categories based on self-reported tobacco smoke exposure. Of these participants: 1386 reported being current smokers, 621 were previously smokers, 1452 had never been smokers but had regular exposure to secondhand smoke (as confirmed by blood test), and 1113 were never smokers and had no exposure to secondhand smoke. The median age at the start of the study was 25. Follow-ups were then conducted by researchers at the 2, 5, 7, and 15-year marks. 

Researchers found that after 15 years smokers were at the most significant risk of developing glucose intolerance, and subsequently diabetes. They also found that those exposed to tobacco smoke passively were at an increased risk despite not being smokers themselves. Toxins found in the blood of passively exposed persons were similar to those found in the blood of current smokers but in different levels. Interestingly, some toxins were even more concentrated in the blood of passively exposed persons due to how these toxins are produced at different temperatures.

One such toxin has been hypothesized to be directly toxic to the pancreas. This toxicity might explain the heightened risk in the secondhand smoke exposure group despite their less overall exposure as compared to the current smoker group. The likelihood of developing glucose intolerance or diabetes was lowest in the non-smoking, unexposed group even after adjustments have been made for a variety of glucose sensitivity risk factors. This means that although smoking may be a marker for other unhealthy behaviors, those behaviors were adjusted for and therefore not responsible for the increase in risk noted by researchers.

The study is significant as it reiterates the dangers of smoking. Furthermore, it underscores the idea that smoking is not just a risk factor for smokers themselves but also to those exposed to their toxic cocktail second hand. In addition, it highlights the link between smoking and diabetes, a condition not generally associated with smoking and a risk factor for heart disease. Although the numbers are unlikely to persuade a smoker to quit smoking for their benefit, it is possible these results will convince a person to quit because of the health risks they pose to those they regularly encounter. If someone you love smokes, feel free to remind them of their risk to your health, often, and backed with the facts of this study.

 

Sources: British Medical JournalNational Heart, Lung and Blood Institute

About the Author
  • Abbie is an AFAA certified personal trainer and fitness instructor with an interest in all things health-science. She has recently graduated with her BS in Applied Sport and Exercise Science from Barry University in Miami. Next, she intends to earn an MPH with a focus in Epidemiology.
You May Also Like
DEC 08, 2020
Cardiology
Some Stroke Risk Disparities May be Linked to Heart Structure
DEC 08, 2020
Some Stroke Risk Disparities May be Linked to Heart Structure
Scientists have found that there are structural differences in the heart's left atrium in Black and white people, an ...
JAN 05, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
Brown Fat Appears to Protect Against Disease
JAN 05, 2021
Brown Fat Appears to Protect Against Disease
Not all fat is the same. White fat is what we're usually thinking of when we think of flabby tissue that stores excess c ...
JAN 19, 2021
Cardiology
Risk of Atrial Fibrillation Raised by Daily Alcoholic Drink
JAN 19, 2021
Risk of Atrial Fibrillation Raised by Daily Alcoholic Drink
Some studies have suggested that moderate alcohol intake is linked to a lower risk of death from heart disease. But that ...
APR 08, 2021
Immunology
It's Not Just Cholesterol That Clogs Arteries
APR 08, 2021
It's Not Just Cholesterol That Clogs Arteries
Researchers have discovered a gene that is directly linked to the development of cardiovascular diseases, such as high b ...
MAY 02, 2021
Microbiology
Fasting Alters Gut Microbiota, Lowering Blood Pressure
MAY 02, 2021
Fasting Alters Gut Microbiota, Lowering Blood Pressure
Increasingly, microbes in the gut are being linked to human health and disease. New research has suggested that disrupti ...
MAY 12, 2021
Cardiology
Reversing the Heart Damage Seen in Marfan Syndrome
MAY 12, 2021
Reversing the Heart Damage Seen in Marfan Syndrome
Marfan syndrome is a genetic disorder that disrupts the connective tissues that anchor and link the body's organs, affec ...
Loading Comments...