Second-Hand Smoke Increase Risk of Diabetes

If you’re looking for one more reasons to quit smoking, there’s already been an established link between smoking status and your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.  What’s more is that a recent study suggests that exposure to second-hand smoke may also increase your risk of getting diabetes.

Researchers from Harvard University and Brigham and Women’s hospital conducted a prospective cohort study involving 100,526 women who did not have prevalent diabetes [1].  The women enrolled in the study were followed for a total of 24 years.  During those 24 years, they identified 5,392 cases of diabetes among the study participants.

The study authors found that compared to non-smokers who weren’t exposed to second-hand smoke, there was an increased risk of diabetes in those who were either occasionally or regularly exposed to passive smoke.  In fact, non-smokers who were exposed to second-hand smoke had a 10% greater risk of diabetes if they were exposed occasionally and a 16% greater risk if they were regularly exposed to second-hand smoke.

For smokers, the association between cigarette smoking and diabetes was even more robust in this study.  Those who smoke more than 25 cigarettes per day had twice the risk of developing type 2 diabetes than non-smokers.

The study authors concluded:

“Our study suggests that exposure to passive smoke and active smoking are positively and independently associated with the risk of type 2 diabetes.”

Other studies suggest that new cases of diabetes are rising dramatically—both in Canada and the United States.  In this study, past smokers still had a 28% greater risk of diabetes, but their risk was still lower than that of current smokers.

Overall, approximately 2 million Canadians or 1/16 had diagnosed diabetes according to statistics from 2009.  [Public Health Agency of Canada].  Quitting smoking or avoiding second-hand smoke are two more ways of reducing your risk of developing diabetes in addition to making healthy dietary decisions and getting regular exercise (both aerobic and resistance training).


  1. Zhang L, Curhan GC, Hu FB, Rimm EB, Forman JP. Association Between Passive and Active Smoking and Incident Type 2 Diabetes in Women. Diabetes Care. 2011 Feb 25. [Epub ahead of print]

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