Diabetes and Cigarettes Could Mean an Early Death

The health risks of smoking have been well documented over the last several decades to great effect. In fact, the percentage of people who smoke has been nearly cut in half since 1965! But there are still smokers out there, and smokers with diabetes to boot.

And according to a new study, those individuals are at an even greater risk.

The Study

Researchers at the University of Colorado, Denver gathered data on over 53,000 Americans, all of whom were current smokers or former heavy smokers. They watched this individuals over a seven year trial period, watching for instances of death due to lung cancer or any other type of cancer. Ultimately, around 3,936 people passed away during the trial period – 1,021 from lung cancer and 826 from other types of cancer.

These findings strengthened the link between smoking and lung cancer, of course, but researchers found something else in their research, too. Around 5,000 of the study participants reported themselves as diabetic when the study began. Among that small group, nearly 13 percent passed away during the trial period – compared to only seven percent of the larger, non-diabetic sample.

These results only pointed to one thing; "We found that diabetes doubles the risk for all-cause mortality and non-lung cancer mortality among heavy smokers," said Kavita Garg, M.D., professor of radiology from the University of Colorado, Denver. The news was especially harrowing for female smokers with diabetes, as they possessed an 80 percent greater risk of developing lung cancer.

The Connection

What causes this increased risk among smokers with diabetes? Dr. Joel Zonszein, director of the Clinical Diabetes Center at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, seems to think it's rather simple. After reviewing the research from Dr. Garg's team, he had this to say:

"We all know that smoking is not good for patients with diabetes -- it worsens peripheral artery disease [poor leg circulation] and heart disease, and predisposes people to an early lung cancer death or disability by chronic obstructive lung disease [COPD]."

Diabetes continues to be a growing concern among our nation's medical professionals. Because of this, research like Dr. Garg's will continue to encourage people to put down the cigarettes for good. It just might help save their lives.

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