Smokers Who Quit May Have Bad Blood Sugar Control

There's no question that giving up cigarettes is a healthy move, but people with type 2 diabetes may experience some negative side effects when they quit smoking.

Recent research published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology found that HbA1c levels in diabetics who quit smoking for at least one year increased by 2.3mmol/mol (0.21 percent).

HbA1c tests, which measure the average state of blood sugar control over the course of a few months, can be a critical measurement of overall health in diabetics.

After one year, former smokers who continued to remain abstinent had gradually declining HbA1c levels after the initial spike.

"Stopping smoking is crucial for preventing complications that lead to early death in those with diabetes," said lead study investigator Dr. Deborah Lycett from Coventry University. "So people with diabetes should continue to make every effort to stop smoking, and at the same time they should expect to take extra care to keep their blood glucose well controlled and maximize the benefits of smoking cessation."

A long-term problem?

While a significant percentage of the study's 3,131 participants saw a gradual decrease in HbA1c levels after one year of abstinence (29 percent), data suggested that some "quitters" might have higher HbA1c levels up to three years after giving up the habit.

Researchers said the fluctuations in HbA1c weren't related to weight changes that are often associated with smoking cessation.

According to a press statement about the study, a 1-percent reduction in HbA1c levels could reduce a diabetic's risk of heart failure and microvascular complications by 16 percent and 37 percent, respectively.

"Knowing that deterioration in blood glucose control occurs around the time of stopping smoking helps to prepare those with diabetes and their clinicians to be proactive in tightening their glycemic control during this time," Dr. Lycett said.

Source: Coventry University

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