Does smoking affect type 2 diabetes?
In the UK around 13% of adults smoke cigarettes and those who smoke are 30-40% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. However, if people already have type 2 diabetes, then continuing to smoke cigarettes can increase their risk of complications.
Smoking can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in several ways:
The chemicals within the cigarettes cause inflammation in the body which increases the risk of not only type 2 diabetes, but other chronic diseases. These chemicals can injure the cells in the body, causing them not to function properly and stopping them from responding to insulin as well.
Nicotine is the addictive part of the cigarette and causes a change and interference in cells, which can cause them to stop responding to insulin, slowing increasing blood glucose levels which can lead to developing type 2 diabetes. There is also a link between nicotine and how fat is distributed around the body, especially with visceral fat sitting around the middle of our bodies, which is a big risk factor when it comes to type 2 diabetes.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD)
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for those that have type 2 diabetes. When you smoke, the walls of your arteries become sticky due to the chemicals in cigarette smoke. This causes fatty material to stick to the artery walls which can build up over time and reduce blood flow or block the arteries. This blockage can lead to a heart attack or a stroke.
British Heart Foundation (2021) Smoking. Available at:
https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/risk-factors/smoking (Accessed on 6 April 2023).
Diabetes.co.uk (2023) Diabetes and Smoking. Available at: https://www.diabetes.co.uk/diabetes- and-smoking.html (Accessed on 6 April 2023).
Diabetes UK (No date) Diabetes and heart disease. Available at:
on 6 April 2023).
Office for National Statistics (2020) Adult smoking habits in the UK: 2019. Available at: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/healthandlifeexpecta
ncies/bulletins/adultsmokinghabitsingreatbritain/2019 (Accessed on 6 April 2023).