Smokers On Remission May Develop Short-Term Increase In Diabetes Risk

In a recent study conducted at John Hopkins University, the researchers found that cessation of smoking may be associated with a temporary increase in risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. The research attributes this increase in risk to a probability of putting on extra pounds in smokers who quit, thereby leading to obesity-induced diabetes. However, researchers also clarified that this is a temporary rise in risk and that the benefit of quitting smoking far outweighs this risk of developing diabetes.

Researchers enrolled 10,892 middle-aged adults who did not have diabetes and followed them for nine years.  The study found that people who smoked had a 42% higher risk of developing diabetes during the follow-up period than non-smokers. However, in smokers who quit, the risk percentage developing Type 2 diabetes peaked to 70% in the first six years after quitting than people who had never smoked. The risks of developing Type 2 diabetes were highest in the first three years after quitting smoking, and then returned to normal after 10 years.

The authors report that new quitters had significant increases in weight and waistline measurement by gaining an average of 8.4 pounds during the three-year period and had a waist size increase of 1 1/4 inches. They also showed an increase in fasting blood sugar levels, attributed to body’s reduced ability to use insulin, compared with people who had never smoked.

Epidemiologist Hsin-Chieh “Jessica” Yeh of Johns Hopkins University, the lead author of the study, emphatically stated that smokers who plan to quit should be very careful not to start eating more and thus gain weight. She also quickly asserted that the study findings should not deter smokers from quitting as the risks of increased heart disease, strokes and cancer linked to smoking far outweigh the small increase in risk for diabetes. Her take home message was, “don’t begin to smoke in the first place.”

Hsin-Chieh Yeh has pointed out that physicians should encourage quitters to manage their weight effectively and that use of nicotine replacement therapy may blunt the weight gain related to quitting. The details of this study have been published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

Article by Snigdha Taduri for Biomed-ME