Home Living with type 2 diabetes Diabetes and Smoking – Why Should I Stop Smoking If I Have Diabetes?

Diabetes and Smoking – Why Should I Stop Smoking If I Have Diabetes?

written by Vidya Sury August 18, 2023
Diabetes and smoking white cigarette stick on white wall

Sharing is caring!

When it comes to diabetes and smoking, it is important to know that smoking can cause a number of diabetes complications. The information that smoking is bad for us is everywhere, but for those with diabetes, smoking can be even more damaging.

Beyond the usual reasons, why shouldn’t I smoke if I have diabetes?

Smoking is now known to be an independent risk factor for diabetes, and amongst diabetics, it increases the risk of complications.

Diabetes complications already include heart disease, stroke, and circulation problems. Smoking adds to the risk of developing all of these things.

In some cases, smoking can double the likelihood of these conditions, as well as doubling the chances of suffering from kidney problems and erectile dysfunction.

For type 2 diabetics, the major cause of death is cardiovascular disease.

Diabetes and smoking: How does smoking increase my heart disease risk as a diabetic?

Diabetes and smoking both increase the risk of heart disease in very similar ways and so when combined, they greatly exacerbate the chances of suffering a heart-related condition such as a heart attack or stroke.

Both high levels of glucose in the blood and smoking damage the walls of the arteries in such a way that fatty deposits can build up much easier. As this occurs, the blood vessels narrow and make it much harder to circulate blood.

When this happens to the coronary arteries (the arteries that supply the heart muscle with blood and therefore oxygen) a heart attack can occur.

Similarly, a stroke is when not enough blood can get to the brain, and so anything that may limit blood flow increases the risks of a stroke.

High blood glucose levels also have this effect on the blood vessels and blood flow, so if you smoke when you have diabetes, you are putting yourself at a much greater risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke.

Diabetes and smoking - can you be at risk for diabetes if you smoke? person holds cigarette stick

I am not diabetic, but I am a smoker. Could smoking lead me to develop diabetes?

Smoking is also proven to be a risk factor for insulin resistance. Patients who are insulin resistant cannot use their bodily insulin properly.

Together with genetics and obesity, smoking is one of the risk factors for insulin resistance. Insulin resistance often leads to diabetes.

Tips on Stopping Smoking

Cancer is one of the big risks of smoking. Quitting smoking is not an easy task but there are a range of different methods that can be used to help you quit.

Diabetes and smoking: Why should you quit smoking? Consider these benefits

Smoking opens us to a range of health problems such as heart disease, stroke, various cancers, and sexual and fertility problems.

A number of these problems are also associated with diabetes and the addition of being a smoker to having diabetes significantly ups the risks of developing diabetic complications.

Cancer is one of the big risks of smoking. Lung cancer is strongly linked with smoking and is the most common cancer of all.
It is far from the only cancer linked with smoking with mouth cancer, throat cancer, bladder, and colon being examples of other cancers associated with regular smoking.

What are your reasons for quitting?

People wanting to quit are commonly recommended to list the reasons why they want to quit.

It can be helpful to write these down and keep the list handy for any time when your willpower is being tested.

You may want to put the list on your fridge or in the first page of a diary or book.

Going cold turkey

Making a decision to quit smoking with willpower alone is possible.

The NHS states that about 3% of quitters succeed through willpower alone. If the statics sound low, it could be because there are now a multitude of smoking cessation aids these days.

Alternative therapies

Alternative therapies for stopping smoking include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Hypnosis
  • Group quitting therapy
  • Different methods may work better for different people but certainly, each of these methods has reported significant success.
  • Nicotine replacement therapy

Nicotine replacement therapy involves taking nicotine without exposing yourself to the other associated dangers of smoking.

Nicotine can be taken orally, inhaled, or taken through the skin and may include any of the following methods:

  • Gum
  • Patches
  • Lozenges
  • Nasal and mouth sprays
  • Inhalators

You can use more than one of these methods, for example using patches to control background cravings and lozenges or gum to treat more intense cravings.

Anti-smoking medication

Anti-smoking medications are distinct from nicotine replacement therapies. Rather than containing nicotine, they affect neurotransmitters and receptors in the brain.

Examples of anti-smoking medications include:

  • Bupropion – under the trade name Zyban
  • Varenicline – under the trade name Champix

Anti-smoking medications can be prescribed by your doctor but may not be suitable for everyone. Zyban should be used with caution by people with diabetes and Champix is not recommended in people with depression.

Your doctor will be able to advise on the suitability of anti-smoking medication. As with any medication, a number of side effects are possible.

Feeling tense without a cigarette to hold?

Many people feel a sense of tension when quitting if they don’t have something to hold in their hands. Some people may carry a pen to busy their hands and a good book can also be a good way to tie up your hands when you have free time.

Drinking from a straw can also be used as a way to keep your hands occupied when having a beverage. If you need something to hold and are struggling with nicotine cravings, inhalators offer a possible solution.

Beating the triggers

If you are used to having a cigarette at specific times, upon waking, at work breaks, while watching TV, or when out socializing then find ways to reduce, avoid or distract from the triggers.

If any of your friends or colleagues smoke, it can be beneficial if one of your friends or colleagues is prepared to quit with you. This can help as you can support and motivate each other and can help you to socialize away from the temptation of others that smoke.

Making excuses

If you have diabetes and smoking seems hard to quit, you may find yourself making excuses to smoke. A stress-filled day can be a serious threat to the hard work you’ve put into quitting. It can be very tempting to have a cigarette and blame the need for it on someone or some event.

You need to be aware for this to happen and to be able to spot and step in with a strong counterargument to stop you from giving in. Refuse to make any excuses for a cigarette.

healthy diet and lifestyle to quit smoking when you have diabetes. Diabetes and smoking caesar salad

A healthy diet and lifestyle can help

Vegetables, fruit, and exercise can really help on your path to quitting for good. They each have beneficial effects on the body. Vegetables and fruit provide a vast array of vitamins and minerals which help our body to operate at its peak and can help to beat cravings.

Exercise, as well as improving our health, has been shown to increase mental well-being and confidence, which makes a strong platform for quitting. Exercise can help to reduce stress and opting for exercise when you crave a cigarette can help the craving to pass.

A healthy diet and exercise also serve a great secondary purpose of helping to better manage diabetes.

Sharing is caring!

0 comment

You may also like

Leave a Comment