Researchers find link between cigarette smoke and type 2 diabetes

Exposure to cigarette smoke - even secondhand smoke - can significantly increase an individual's risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to a new study from researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

The findings provide further evidence that air pollutants can contribute to diabetes. Several recent studies found that air contaminants of all kinds may increase the risk of developing the condition, while an investigation from a team of Korean researchers conducted last year also found a potential link between cigarette smoke and diabetes.

For the present study, which was published in the journal Diabetes Care, researchers examined survey data from more than 100,000 women collected between 1982 and 2006. The survey asked participants about their history of exposure to smoke and any medical conditions they had been diagnosed with.

The findings indicate that women who continued to smoke more than 25 cigarettes per day were nearly twice as likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Past smokers were 28 percent more likely to become diabetic.

Among the most surprising results was the association between secondhand smoke exposure and diabetes risk. Those who had regularly been around cigarette smoke, but who never smoked themselves, were 16 percent more likely to develop diabetes.

The researchers told AOL Health that the reason for the increased diabetes risk among smokers is not clear from their findings. However, it most likely has to do with the fact that cigarette smoke is known to cause inflammation, and that this can cause a number of complications throughout the body. This may affect the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas.