Second-Hand Smoke Raises Type 2 Diabetes Risk

People who are exposed to second-hand smoke have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to new research.

In a meta-analysis that included nearly six million people, researchers found that people exposed to second-hand smoke were about 22 percent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, and the risk for current smokers was 37 percent higher than non-smokers.

"Despite global efforts to combat the tobacco epidemic, smoking remains a major public-health threat for many countries," said Dr. An Pan, assistant dean of the School of Public Health at Tongji Medical College in China. "Our findings provide strong evidence that smoking is related to increased risk of diabetes."

Diabetes risk high in recent quitters, but lowers over time

While there is already a large body of research that suggests smoking cessation is important for diabetics, many people with the blood sugar condition might balk at quitting because of fears about weight gain.

"The short-term increased risk of smoking cessation on diabetes risk may be a barrier for some people who want to quit smoking," Pan said in an article on Medscape. "However, the long-term benefits clearly outweigh the short-term risk."

Diabetes risk does remain high in people who have recently quit smoking, Pan said, but risk decreases along with time spent abstaining.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, secondhand smoke is on the decline in general, but about 58 million non-smokers are exposed to it in the U.S. annually.

"For secondhand smoke, [past studies have] clearly shown that passive smoking is related to increased risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease and now diabetes as well," Pan said.

Source: CDC, Medscape

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