SUNDAY, March 27 (HealthDay News) -- Smoking is damaging to everyone's health, but the nicotine in cigarettes may be even more deadly for people who have diabetes.
In lab experiments, researchers discovered that nicotine raised blood sugar levels, and the more nicotine that was present, the higher the blood sugar levels were. Higher blood sugar levels are linked to an increased risk of complications from diabetes, such as eye and kidney disease.
"Smoking is really harmful for diabetics. It's even more harmful to them than to a non-diabetic," said study author Xiao-Chuan Liu, an associate professor in the department of chemistry at California State Polytechnic University in Pomona. "This study should encourage diabetics to quit smoking completely, and to realize that it's the nicotine that's raising [blood sugar levels]."
For that reason, it's also important to limit the use of nicotine replacement products, such as nicotine patches, Liu said.
"If you're using them for a short period of time to quit smoking, that's OK. But, if you still have this addiction to nicotine and are using this product long-term, it will do harm. Don't use electronic cigarettes or nicotine gum for a long time. You need to stop nicotine intake," he advised.
Liu is scheduled to present his findings Sunday at an American Chemical Society meeting in Anaheim, Calif.
It was already well-established that smoking increased the risk of problems in people with diabetes, Liu said. What hasn't been clear, he said, is if there is a specfic component of cigarettes that increases the risk.
To test whether or not nicotine, an addictive substance found in cigarette smoke, contributed to higher blood sugar levels, Liu and his colleagues added equal amounts of glucose (sugar) to samples of human red blood cells. They also added varying levels of nicotine to each sample of red blood cells for ei
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