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Tobacco and Blood Sugar
February 2002

Q. I am a nutritional biochemist and counsel clients with various food/weight related disorders. I am well aware of the effects of tobacco smoke on blood sugar. Can you tell me if second hand smoke also affects blood sugar? I have observed that non-smoking diabetics have better control over their blood sugar when they take precautions to avoid second hand smoke and I routinely advise patients to avoid prolonged exposure to tobacco smoke.

A. The effects of smoking on blood sugar in diabetics is not entirely clear. Some studies have found an elevation in blood sugar occurs and other studies are inconclusive. The long term effects are quite serious however, as diabetes and smoking both cause accelerated damage to small blood vessels, increasing the risk for heart attacks and strokes, for example. Control of blood sugar can delay the consequences of diabetes, so all treatment measures should aim to achieve this goal.



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