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Smoking is dangerous to everybody’s health. The nicotine in cigarettes may even be more dangerous for people with diabetes. Nicotine can make your blood sugar level go up and down. Nicotine alters the way your body uses glucose which is the sugar in your blood that fuels your body. It could raise your odds of getting type 2 diabetes. It can also make your diabetes worse. A U.S. study suggests black smokers that smoke at least a pack of cigarettes a day has a higher risk of developing diabetes. The study also found that smokers and black people both have higher risks of diabetes than nonsmokers and individuals from other racial and ethnic backgrounds.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that tobacco smokers are about 30 to 40 percent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than nonsmokers. The American Chemical Society suggested that nicotine caused hemoglobin A1C levels, which are the two to three month averages of blood sugar levels to rise by 34 percent. Elevated A1C levels also indicate you may be at a higher risk of complications from diabetes.

Smoking releases nicotine and over 1200 other toxic compounds into the bloodstream. Smoking also contributes to the formation of blood clots and reduces the HDLs (good cholesterol) and increases blood pressure and heart rate. E-cigarettes contain a much lower nicotine percent and they taste good. Because of the great taste people tend to smoke more often.

Researchers have discovered that nicotine found in cigarettes and vaping equipment raised blood sugar levels. It was also noted that the more nicotine that was present the higher the blood sugar levels were. Higher blood sugar levels are linked to an increased risk of complication from diabetes such as eye and kidney disease.

The 2014 Surgeon General’s Report found that smoking is a cause of type 2 diabetes, which is also called “adult onset diabetes”. Smokers have a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes than do nonsmokers. The risk of increases with the number of cigarettes smoked per day. Nicotine can also trigger your body to make more triglycerides, a type of fat linked to insulin resistance. Nicotine raises levels of hormones that fight insulin. Studies have confirmed that when people with type 2 diabetes are exposed to nicotine, insulin (the hormone that lowers blood sugar levels) is less effective. People with diabetes who smoke will need larger doses of insulin to control their blood sugar.

You also want to limit your exposure to second hand smoke — ETS (environmental tobacco smoke) contains over 4,000 chemical compounds including nicotine. More than 60 of these are known to cause health problems. Some of the toxins or irritants in secondhand smoke include carbon monoxide, nicotine, hydrogen cyanide, ammonia, formaldehyde and sulfur dioxide. Carcinogens in ETS include benzene, aromatic amines (especially carcinogens such as 2-naphthylamine and 4-aminobiphenyl), vinyl chloride, arsenic, nitrosamines and cadmium. The greater your exposure to ETS, the greater your level of these harmful compounds in your body.

There are studies about smoking and diabetic neuropathy. These studies suggest smoking can affect diabetic neuropathy differently according to the type of diabetes. In an 8-year study, smoking was significantly associated with an increased risk for coronary heart disease (CHD) in diabetic patients. In Asia, where there are high rates of smoking there is high prevalence of diabetes.

Smoking will also increase the risk of stroke in patients with diabetes, but may not be as strong as CHD. In a study in the United Kingdom, smoking was an additional risk factor for stroke in type 2 diabetic patients. Another 4-year study also showed that smoking and HbA1c were predictors of stroke among the type 2 diabetic patients without a history of a previous stroke.

Quiting the smoking habit does have numerous health benefits. Diabetics who quit may have temporary difficulty controlling their diabetic symptoms. This difficulty goes away in a few months. Smoking can affect blood test results. If you have been asked to fast before a blood test, you should avoid smoking also.

An easy plan to follow to stop smoking is the “5 D’s” plan recommended by both smokers and cancer experts:

1. Deep breathing

Take a deep breath, in through your nose.

Hold the breath for a count of 4.

Then breathe out slowly, through your mouth

Repeat these steps 4 or 5 times, or until you feel calm.

To make sure you are breathing deeply, place your hands on your stomach. You should feel your stomach rise as you breathe in.

2. Drink water

Try to drink 8 glasses a day.

3. Do something else

Exercise. Chew some gum. Listen to your favorite music. Work a crossword puzzle. Look at a magazine. Read the Bible. Keeping busy with other things will keep your mind off smoking.

4. Discuss with a friend or family member

Talking about things can help you to feel better.

5. Delay

Don’t reach for that cigarette right away. Count to 100 or 200. Think pleasant thoughts. Remember, the urge to smoke will pass in 3 to 5 minutes, whether you smoke or not.

Can you use nicotine replacement product to stop smoking? Most studies suggest that short-term use of these products will expose you to nicotine but if it is being used to quit smoking the benefits out weight the risk.

As difficult as it may be to quit remember it’s never too late. Immediately after you quit you will begin to reverse the damage done to your body and reduce your risk for disease. Ten years after cessation an ex-smokers risk for heart disease approaches that of a non-smoker and the same applies to lung cancer fifteen years after cessation.

If you have a fitness question or concern you would like addressed write to: “Tips to be Fit,” P.O. Box 53443, Philadelphia, PA 19105 or tipstobefit@gmail.com. If you’ve missed an article of “Tips to be Fit” just search “Tips to be Fit.”

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