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Smoking cessation found to boost risk for type 2 diabetes

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Researchers say that for those who stop smoking, watching weight is important to reduce risk of diabetes that increases with smoking cessation. New research from Johns Hopkins shows that stopping smoking, for the short term, might mean a higher likelihood of type 2 diabetes.

The study, published January 5 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers found that people who quit smoking have a 70 percent higher chance of developing diabetes. Though the findings are concerning, the scientists warn the study results should be no excuse for continuing to smoke.

Compared to individuals who never smoked, diabetes risk among ex-smokers increased for the first six years following giving up cigarettes. Smoking is a known risk factor for diabetes. In the study, current smokers were still had a 30 percent increased risk of diabetes. After ten years, diabetes risk returned to normal, and was highest for the first three years following smoking cessation.

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Not surprisingly, those who smoked the most and gained the most weight had the highest risk of type 2 diabetes after stopping smoking. The study included 10,892 middle-aged adults from 1987 to 1989 without diabetes. In a nine year follow up, 1254 adults developed type 2 diabetes.

The authors concluded, "Cigarette smoking predicts incident type 2 diabetes, but smoking cessation leads to higher short-term risk. For smokers at risk for diabetes, smoking cessation should be coupled with strategies for diabetes prevention and early detection."

To avoid diabetes, the study authors say physicians should counsel patients that intend to stop smoking about the need for aggressive weight management, frequent screening for diabetes, and use of nicotine replacement therapy that seems to reduce the chances of gaining too much weight from smoking cessation, now linked to increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

Annals of Internal Medicine