Black adults have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes if they smoke more than a packet of cigarettes a day, research suggests.
Studies have already flagged up an increased risk of diabetes among smokers from African-Caribbean backgrounds, but this new research differed as it explored the impact of the volume of cigarettes smoked.
The University of Mississippi compared the health records of 2,991 black adults without diabetes, which included 361 people who smoked and 502 who used to smoke.
After a follow-up period of eight years, black adults who smoked at least 20 cigarettes a day were 79% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes compared to those who didn’t smoke.
But, the results also showed that former smokers and those who smoked 10 or less cigarettes a day did not have a greater risk of diabetes compared with non-smokers.
A total of 15% of those who had not smoked developed type 2 diabetes compared to 20% of past smokers and 17% of current smokers.
When factors influencing diabetes were taken into account, smoking alone did not lead to people developing the condition. Researchers also point out that the study was not an experiment to look at whether or how smoking directly causes diabetes.
Dr Michael Hall, who led the study, said: “Obviously, all smokers should be encouraged to quit. However, it is possible that decreasing the number of cigarettes smoked daily may reduce the risk of developing diabetes in blacks at risk.
“People who smoke also have a tendency towards other unhealthy lifestyle habits including drinking more alcohol, worse diet and less physical activity. Our study adjusted for as many of these variables as possible and the results suggest factors beyond those related to lifestyle may play a role in this association.”
The study was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

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