Everyone should know by now that using tobacco is bad for your health, but if you are diabetic or prediabetic and using tobacco, your blood sugar numbers could be higher than normal and causing additional health complications. November 14 is World Diabetes Day and November is American Diabetes Month. This is a great time to learn how tobacco is hurting your blood sugar numbers.
Being diagnosed as diabetic means your body does not produce enough insulin or your body isn’t using the insulin as well as it should, causing excess sugar in your blood, which can be measured by a blood test. The excess sugar in your blood isn’t moving into your cells to provide you with energy. Over time the excess sugar can damage blood vessels and create serious problems throughout the body.
Smoking increases your risk of diabetes and does additional damage to your blood vessels. Nicotine and chemicals in cigarette smoke cause your vessels to narrow, making it more difficult for oxygen in your blood to reach your tissues. Smoking also contributes to fatty deposits on artery walls, further narrowing them. People with diabetes are more likely to develop Peripheral Arterial Disease in which blood flow is reduced to legs and feet. If left untreated PAD could result in gangrene and amputation.
Tobacco products also contain sugars that increase your blood sugar levels. Of the almost 600 ingredients in a cigarette, about 20% of it is sugar. The Philip Morris website lists their ingredients by brand, and sugars (sucrose and/or invert sugar and/or high fructose corn syrup) is listed as the third ingredient by weight in their cigarette products.
Smokeless tobacco also contains sweeteners and amounts can vary between brands. Sugar content of pouch tobaccos ranged between 24% and 65%; plug tobacco was 13% to 50%. Even snuff, a smokeless tobacco of ground tobacco leaves that is inhaled into the nose, has about a 2% sugar content.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are more than 29 million Americans with diabetes and 25% don’t know. More than 1 in 3 American adults, about 86 million, have prediabetes, a condition where “blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as type 2 diabetes.” Some risk factors for developing diabetes can’t be controlled, such as family history, race and age. But some factors such as weight, inactivity and tobacco use can. If you have symptoms of type 2 diabetes such as an increased thirst and frequent urination, increased hunger, weight loss, fatigue, blurred vision, slow-healing sores or frequent infections, or areas of darkened skin, make an appointment with your doctor. The sooner you seek treatment for diabetes, the sooner you can get your symptoms under control.
Click HERE for more information on diabetes.