Smoking and Diabetes – What’s the Connection?

Smoking contributes to diabetes, so does smoking cessation.


It’s a known fact that chronic cigarette smoking increases insulin resistance and decreases insulin sensitivity, factors that increase the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Studies have shown that nicotine and other harmful substances found in cigarettes damage the cells and cause chronic but low-grade inflammation. Now, chronic inflammation, although it may be low-grade, causes metabolic abnormalities that contribute to insulin resistance.

This damaging effect of cigarette smoking is why smoking cessation is very important in reducing the risks of developing Type 2 diabetes. Unfortunately, smoking cessation, as studies have also found, also contributes to the development of Type 2 diabetes; and here’s why.

Link Between Smoking Cessation and Type 2 Diabetes

One of the effects of nicotine is to suppress appetite. Nicotine triggers certain receptors in the brain responsible for flight or fight. These receptors also play a role in appetite regulation, so when they are activated, appetite is suppressed and hunger is reduced.

Now, when you quit smoking, your hunger pangs become more frequent that you give in to your cravings. After all, nicotine is no longer “guarding the gate.” The more you give in to your cravings, the more weight you gain, the more fat mass you accumulate, and the more your fasting insulin sensitivity weakens. All these are, again, factors that increase your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

So what then should you do?

Correcting the Problem

It’s still important to quit smoking, but you have to be smarter though.

Hunger pangs will hit you; that’s for sure. But instead of giving in and eating the types of food that you want to eat, munch on fresh fruits and veggies instead. These healthy foods can help satiate your appetite and, at the same time, promote healing of damaged cells as well.

It’s also very important to start exercising. Not only can this help you lose weight and boost metabolism, but exercise can also improve insulin sensitivity.

Finally, drink plenty of water. It can help you feel full, keep you hydrated, and help prevent nicotine craving.


Smoking in relation to Obesity, Inflammation, Insulin Resistance and Adipokines in Men with Type 2 Diabetes. URL Link. October 17, 2017.

Effects of smoking cessation on β-cell function, insulin sensitivity, body weight, and appetite. URL Link. October 17, 2017.


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