Giving up smoking increases the risk of diabetes
'If you smoke, give it up. That's the right thing to do. But people have to also watch their weight'
PEOPLE who give up smoking are prone to developing diabetes because they gain weight, scientists warn.
A large American study found that people who quit were twice as likely as continuing smokers and up to 70pc more likely than non-smokers to have type two diabetes within six years.
The researchers from Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, said that people attempting to quit should be offered advice on diet and exercise to avoid gaining weight.
But the dangers of developing lung cancer or other health problems from smoking outweigh the short-term risks from quitting and should not be used as an excuse not to kick the habit, they said.
The study enrolled 10,892 middle-aged adults who did not yet have diabetes, from 1987 to 1989. They were monitored for up to 17 years and data about diabetes status, glucose levels and weight were collected.
Type two diabetes normally occurs in middle age and is associated with being overweight.
It is distinct from the type one form of the condition, which is usually diagnosed in children and is managed with daily insulin injections.
In the study, scientists found that people who quit smoking had a higher risk of developing type two diabetes in the first six years without cigarettes compared with people who never smoked. The risks were highest in the first three years after quitting and returned to normal after 10 years.
On average, over the first three years of the study, people who stopped smoking put on nearly eight and a half pounds and saw their waist bulge by about one and a quarter inches.
Hsin-Chieh Yeh, assistant professor at Johns Hopkins and the lead author of the study, pointed out that cigarette smoking was also a risk factor for type two diabetes.
Among those who continued smoking, the risk was lower than in those who quit, but the chance of developing diabetes was still 30pc higher compared with those who never smoked.
"The message is: don't even start to smoke," she said. "If you smoke, give it up. That's the right thing to do. But people have to also watch their weight."
Heavy smokers who give up should be offered lifestyle counselling to set up an exercise regime, monitor weight, use nicotine replacement therapy and more frequent blood glucose screening to detect the onset of diabetes, she said.
Natasha Marsland, care adviser at the health charity Diabetes UK, said: "On no account should people use the theoretical results of this study as an excuse not to give up smoking. The health benefits of giving up smoking far outweigh the risk of developing type two diabetes from modest, short-term weight gain.
"There is every reason you can be successful at both giving up smoking and keeping to a healthy weight if you combine daily physical activity with a diet that's low in sugar, salt and fat." (©The Times, London)