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Friday, December 29, 2006

Cigarettes, Chewing Tobacco, and Diabetes

Nothing can match the frustration of a health care professional than the spectacle of a person with diabetes, or even at risk of diabetes because of genetic factors or bad eating and drinking habits, and who smokes cigarettes or chews tobacco. Mainstream communities can hardly escape public health awareness efforts to prevent both diabetes and cancer, but ethnic minorities and the illiterate tend to escape such warnings. Unfortunately, neither nicotine nor diabetes is willing to make any concessions when it comes to finding prey, so people addicted to any form of tobacco are at gravely higher risk to life if susceptible to diabetes, or suffering from high blood glucose already.

Tobacco-related habits make people vulnerable to respiratory and oral infections, and to sores in the mucosa as well. These seemingly minor ailments push blood glucose up, and may bridge whatever gap exists between pre-diabetes and full blown type 2 diabetes. However, the more noxious connection between diabetes and tobacco relates to blood vessels. The latter harden and narrow with linings of cholesterol, and oxygen supply to heart and other tissues decreases. High blood sugar weakens muscles and threatens the heart on its own. The combination of diabetes and tobacco intake in any form is a terrible threat, because the possibilities of life-threatening heart and circulatory system problems stack up with chances of cancers. Tobacco and diabetes also combine together in deadly fashion to threaten nerves, the kidneys, and joints as well. Men who smoke, and those with diabetes, are both vulnerable to impotence: those with both the habit and the disease are almost certain to suffer from erectile dysfunction.

Quitting tobacco is much harder than living with prescriptions for diabetes, but longevity is unlikely to improve through blood glucose control bereft of complete abstinence from tobacco in any form. Psychiatry and modern medicines can help everyone quit tobacco, whether they have diabetes or not, but the need is far greater and more pressing when both conditions exist together in an individual.


Anonymous Doug said...

Hello Dr. Banerji,

Thank you for the Google links to the Ringworm images. Some of those photos look very severe.

I had quit smoking two years before my diabetes diagnoses. I quit because I didn't feel very well most of the time. My doctor said that was probably the diabetes and smoking telling me something then, two years before.

3:12 AM  
Blogger Dr. S. Banerji said...

Congratulations on giving up tobacco. Remember that you are vulnerable to addiction throughout life. You must resist all temptations to have a smoke at any time, no matter how long you have been off it. I have two friends who lapsed in to their old smoking ways more than a decade after they gave up!
Yes, ringworm can look pretty fearsome, but do not worry because the latest prescription medicines get rid of the most advanced infections quickly. However, they do not prevent fresh infections which anyone can get from bed and bath linen.
Happy New Year!

8:18 AM  

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