Current smokers and people regularly exposed to second-hand smoke have a significantly increased risk for type 2 diabetes compared with people who have never smoked, according to a new meta-analysis conducted by researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China, and National University of Singapore. The researchers estimated that 11.7 percent of cases of type 2 diabetes in men and 2.4 percent in women (about 27.8 million cases in total worldwide) may be attributable to active smoking. They also found that risk decreases as time elapses after smokers quit.
“Cigarette smoking should be considered as a key modifiable risk factor for diabetes. Public health efforts to reduce smoking will have a substantial impact on the global burden of type 2 diabetes,” said co-author Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology.
The study will be published September 18 in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.
While the evidence pointing to smoking as a risk factor for cancer, respiratory diseases, and cardiovascular disease is overwhelming, corroboration of a link between smoking and type 2 diabetes risk has been slower to build. In 2014, the U.S. Surgeon General’s report for the first time included a section on smoking and diabetes risk and argued for the causal relation between them, although it did not discuss the relation of passive smoking and smoking cessation with diabetes risk.
In this study, the Harvard Chan researchers and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis of 88 previous studies on the association between smoking and type 2 diabetes risk, looking at health data from nearly six million study participants. They found that when compared with people who never smoked, current smoking increased the risk of type 2 diabetes by 37 percent; former smoking by 14 percent; and passive smoking (breathing in second-hand smoke) by 22 percent. They also found a 54 percent increased risk of type 2 diabetes in people who quit smoking less than five years ago, which fell to 18 percent increased risk after five years and 11 percent increased risk more than 10 years after quitting.
Among current smokers, the amount smoked made a difference. The increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes was 21 percent, 34 percent, and 57 percent for light, moderate, and heavy smokers, respectively, compared with never smokers. Read more