Diabetics, Here Are 5 Dangerous Ways Smoking Is Harming You
Smoking and diabetes: Smoking, a known cause of cardiovascular disease, constricts the walls of arteries, thereby reducing blood flow to the heart and brain. This not only increases the chance of heart attack and stroke but also affects blood flow to legs, causing ulcers.
The risk of peripheral neuropathy in diabetic smokers is higher than in non-smokers
- Over 40% of people who smoke are at risk of Type 2 diabetes
- Smokers may find it more difficult to control their blood sugar levels
- Studies show that nicotine in cigarettes increase insulin resistance
According to national surveys, 1 in every 10 adults in India smokes tobacco in some form. If you are a smoker, you may be well aware that cigarettes are an invitation to a host of deadly diseases including cancer and heart problems. And if you are a diabetic and still haven't quit, then it is nothing less than a lethal combination. While smoking adversely affects most organs in the body, several studies over the years indicate that regular smoking is a major independent risk factor for developing Type 2 diabetes.
How smoking affects diabetics
More than 40% of the people who smoke are at a high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. According to a study conducted by a leading university in the US, heavy smokers with Type 2 diabetes are at double the risk of dying early from the disease compared to diabetic non-smokers. This is more so for women smokers who are diabetic. Independently, high blood glucose levels and the harmful chemical concoction present in cigarette smoke can damage the arteries leading to blockages and clots that cause a heart attack. And when put together, they cause twice the damage. The combination dramatically increases the chances of developing long-term complications. Smokers may also find it more difficult to control their blood sugar levels. Problems related to diabetes that can worsen because of smoking include retinopathy, neuropathy, or nerve damage and infections and ulcers, commonly seen in diabetes patients. To better understand the link between smoking and diabetes let us understand the mechanism of the disease.
Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disease that adversely impacts glucose conversion in the body. The body either turns insulin resistant or does not produce enough insulin to process glucose, causing it to build up in the blood. As a result, the cells in the body fail to get glucose for energy conversion.
1. Smoking and risk of organ damage
There is clear scientific evidence that smoking causes an increase in blood pressure and cholesterol levels in the body and reduces the supply of oxygen to tissues. Studies show that the nicotine in cigarette smoke increases insulin resistance causing greater fluctuations in blood sugar levels in the body, invariably leading to multiple organ damage.
2. Smoking and diabetes-related sores
Smoking, a known cause of cardiovascular disease, constricts the walls of arteries, thereby reducing blood flow to the heart and brain. This not only increases the chance of heart attack and stroke but also affects blood flow to legs, causing ulcers. In the worst cases, non-healing sores and infected wounds can lead to amputation.
3. Smokers with diabetes have triple the risk of respiratory diseases
Since smoking puts the lungs under a lot of stress, those with diabetes are more likely to develop chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and lung cancer. The high sugar levels add to the stress making diabetics who smoke three times more prone to lung damage than their non-smoker counterparts.
4. Smoking and retinopathy
Uncontrolled diabetes often leads to vision problems due to damage to the optic nerves. Smoking is known to accelerate this process thereby increasing the risk of cataract, retinopathy and glaucoma.
5. Smoking and neurological damage
The risk of peripheral neuropathy in diabetic smokers is much higher than that in non-smokers. This is because the smoke from cigarettes contains chemicals that cause irreversible nerve damage, thereby hastening the onset of neuropathy.
(Dr Vishal Sehgal is Medical Director at Portea Medical)
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