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Study establishes link between smoking and diabetes

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A five-year study has found that cigarette smokers were almost twice as likely as nonsmokers to develop the most common form of diabetes.

The latest findings to come from the Insulin Resistance Atherosclerosis Study showed that a quarter of smokers who did not have Type 2 diabetes when the study began developed the disease within five years, compared with 14 percent of nonsmokers. The results were published Monday in the journal Diabetes Care.

Capri G. Foy, a research associate at Wake Forest University School of

Medicine and the lead author of the paper, said that when the results were adjusted to account for other risk factors for diabetes, "smokers still exhibited significantly increased incidence of diabetes compared to people who had never smoked.

"These findings suggest another poor health outcome associated with cigarettes, supporting current surgeon general's warnings against cigarette smoking," Foy said in a written release. The study, launched in the mid-1990s and no longer funded, focused on the pre-diabetic condition known as insulin resistance -- a condition in which the body has trouble using the insulin it produces.

Participants included roughly equal numbers of African Americans, Hispanics and Anglos, as well as about equal numbers of men and women. More than 400 participants were from San Antonio, the rest from Los Angeles; Oakland, Calif.; and Colorado's San Luis Valley.

More than 1,600 people from the four locations were recruited for the study. But various papers, including the latest, looked at subsets of that total number. Dr. Steven Haffner, who was one of the study's original researchers but among those contributing to the most recent paper, said other studies have shown a

less-than-solid connection between smoking and diabetes.

"There's been some data in the literature, but it's inconsistent," said

Haffner, a professor of medicine at the University of Texas Health Science


A 2004 study of Minnesota diabetics found that about one in five smoked cigarettes. Major risk factors for Type 2 diabetes include a family history of the disease, advanced age, obesity and physical inactivity.

Type 2 diabetes is more common among African Americans, Hispanics, American Indians, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Federal health officials estimate that more than 18 million people -- 6.3 percent of the population -- have diabetes, with more than one-third undiagnosed. About 90 percent of diabetics have the Type 2 form of the disease.

Though the researchers didn't speculate on how smoking and diabetes might be linked, they noted that both are independent risk factors for heart disease.



c.2005 San Antonio Express-News

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