Everyone knows that cigarette smoking is simply unhealthy. But what might be news to you is that smoking presents even more dangers for people with diabetes—it makes for a deadly duo. Whether or not you have diabetes, smoking is the number one avoidable cause of death (in the US). Yet, nearly one out of every four American adults smokes.
Anyone who smokes for many years is at risk for lung cancer, heart disease, stroke, poor circulation and emphysema (trouble breathing). These problems occur because smoking cuts down on the amount of oxygen that reaches the tissues in your body. This lack of oxygen can cause steady damage to the body’s many organs and systems. Some research even suggests that smoking may add to the reasons a person gets type 2 diabetes in the first place.
People with diabetes are already at risk for all the smoking-related problems listed above. In addition, smoking when you have diabetes increases your risk for heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and poor circulation. Smoking also causes greater and faster damage to the blood vessels in the eyes, nerves and kidneys. These are the organs of the body that are often damaged from years of diabetes. That’s the bad news about smoking.
The “silver lining” to this cloud is that you can prevent smoking-related problems and even death by quitting smoking now (or not starting in the first place).
Another bit of good news: The health benefits of quitting smoking start right away and last forever. For example, just one year of not smoking cigarettes cuts the risk of heart disease in half.
Ways to quit smoking
If you’ve ever tried to quit smoking you know that it’s hard to do. That’s because when you smoke you become addicted to nicotine. In fact, most people have to try quitting a few times before they are able to quit for good.
There are many ways to quit smoking. Review these options. Also discuss your goal to quit smoking with your health care provider. Get his or her advice about the best way for you to quit. Then figure out what method or methods you believe will work for you.
- Quit smoking groups: Find a local group at the place you work, a local hospital or a local office of the heart, lung or cancer association. Ways to contact national groups are listed below. Also, check the Yellow Pages under “Smoking Cessation” (cessation means “stopping”) for groups in your area.
- Quit smoking with a national program: Check out online internet programs or telephone hotlines. Search on the internet for “smoking cessation.” Join in on a national event, such as the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout®. This event is held each year during the third week in November.
- Use a smoking cessation medicine: Several types of medicines that replace nicotine and help you want less of it are available at your pharmacy. They also reduce the cravings for a cigarette and the symptoms of withdrawal. These products include gums, patches, inhalers or sprays. Some of these products are only available with a prescription. Check with your health care provider to see if any of these are right for you.
- Work with a counselor: You might want to find a counselor to work with who helps people quit smoking. This person can help you learn to avoid behaviors and activities that trigger smoking. He or she might also use hypnosis or acupuncture to help lessen the craving to smoke.
Finally, hold on to this thought: Quitting smoking is one of the most important actions you can take to become and stay more healthy.