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Quitting smoking ‘increases the risk of diabetes’

By Nigel Praities

Smoking cessation dramatically increases the risk of developing diabetes in the first three years after quitting, a US study has found.

The study – published in the latest edition of the Annals of Internal Medicine – found weight gain after quitting contributed to a 73% increased risk of developing diabetes over three years, compared with non-smokers.

This elevated risk compared with only a 31% increased risk of developing diabetes in those who continued smoking, compared with those who had never smoked.

The researchers followed nearly 11,000 subjects for over a decade and found the highest diabetes risk occurred during the first three years after quitting smoking, and then gradually decreased until no excess risk was seen at 12 years.

They found the increased risk was partly explained by weight gain after quitting smoking, with significantly increased weight, waist circumference and blood glucose levels in those who quit smoking during the study compared with those who did not.

Lead author Professor Hsin-Chieh Leh, assistant professor of medicine at John Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA, said: ‘Despite the well-established association of cumulative smoking with long-term diabetes risk, smoking cessation does not seem to reduce the short-term risk for diabetes but rather increases it.'

‘Physicians should be aware of this elevated risk and should consider countermeasures, especially for heavy smokers.'

‘Such countermeasures may include lifestyle counselling and aggressive weight management, use of nicotine replacement therapy – which seems to blunt weight gain due to quitting – and more frequent checking of blood glucose as a means of reducing smoking-related risk for diabetes in the general population.'

Ann Intern Med 2010; 152: 10-17

Quitting smoking ‘increases the risk of diabetes'


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