The study was published in the journal The Lancet Public Health earlier this month, and indicated that in China the prevalence of diabetes has increased by almost ten times, since the 80’s. Interestingly, other studies have shown that only about 50% of this increase in diabetes can be attributed to unhealthy eating habits, suggesting that the other 50% is caused by other lifestyle factors, such as smoking.
The study participants were separated into four categories according to smoking history: never-smokers, ever-regular smokers, ex-smokers, and occasional smokers, while cases of diabetes were identified via local databases.
Heavy smokers are more likely to be overweight
The compiled data recorded 13,652 new-onset diabetes cases amongst 482 589 participants without previous diabetes. Additionally, heavy smokers were more likely to have higher abdominal fat than light or non-smokers, which also increased their risk.
Study author, Professor Zhengming Chen, from the University of Oxford, UK, said, “The excess smoking-associated risk of diabetes among men in China is likely to increase substantially in future generations because the tobacco epidemic is maturing, but also because levels of overweight and obesity continue to rise among adults in China.”
Study co-author, Dr Fiona Bragg, from the University of Oxford, UK, added, “These findings add to existing evidence of the health benefits of giving up smoking, not only for prevention of cancer, respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, but now also for prevention of diabetes.”
Smoking linked to disease directly or indirectly
Professor Liming Li from Peking University in China, pointed that although we cannot say that smoking causes diabetes, we can for sure say that it may be a contributing factor. “We can’t conclude from these findings that smoking causes type 2 diabetes, but, irrespective of this, smoking should be targeted as an important modifiable lifestyle factor in future disease prevention strategies, including for diabetes, in China and elsewhere.”
Read Further: University of Oxford