Smoking remains prevalent among individuals with type 2 diabetes. Up to one-fifth of diabetic patients smoke despite efforts of health experts to discourage the habit. Findings of a new study offer evidence of the dangers tobacco pose to diabetics.

The new study, which was published in the journal Circulation on Aug. 26, has shown that people with type 2 diabetes who smoke have significantly increased odds for stroke, heart disease and early death compared with diabetics who do not smoke.

Diabetic smokers also have higher risks for heart failure, clogged arteries and reduced blood flow to the limbs. Their odds for developing these unwanted conditions, however, can be reduced by quitting the unhealthy habit albeit the risks remain moderately higher when compared with those who never smoked.

"Smoking cessation still remains a major target for patients who smoke," said study researcher An Pan, from Tongji Medical College of the Huazhong University of Science and Technology in China. "We also found that former smokers had substantially reduced risks compared with current smokers, although not totally returned to the risk of never smokers, suggesting that quitting smoking is beneficial in the long run for diabetic patients.

Pan and colleagues wanted to know if smoking is associated with cardiovascular events and total mortality among diabetic patients and if quitting the habit would reduce the risks so they looked at the data of 89 earlier studies on smoking among adults who have type 2 diabetes and found that diabetics who smoke have about 1.5 times increased odds of experiencing stroke, clogged arteries, overall heart disease and heart failure.

The researchers also found that smokers have more than twice the risks of suffering from peripheral artery disease than their counterparts who don not smoke. Former smokers, on the other hand had 1.2 times higher likelihood for clogged arteries and 1.1 times increased odds for overall heart disease compared with those who never smoked.

Based on the risk estimates from their review and the rates of deaths from diabetes worldwide, the researchers estimated that smoking is responsible for 14.6 percent of death in male diabetics and 3.3 percent of deaths in female diabetics globally. They also said that the findings provide strong evidence to urge diabetic patients to quit smoking.

"Active smoking is associated with significantly increased risks of total mortality and cardiovascular events among diabetic patients, while smoking cessation was associated with reduced risks compared to current smoking," the researchers wrote. "The findings provide strong evidence for the recommendation of quitting smoking among diabetic patients."

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