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Letter: Smoking increases risk of Type 2 diabetes

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Note: The statements, views, and opinions contained in this letter to the editor are those of the author and are not endorsed by, nor do they necessarily reflect, the opinions of The Republic.

From: Brian Niedbalski, M.D.

Bartholomew Co. health officer

Nearly 26 million Americans have diabetes, and the number is rising daily. Since 1980, the percentage of people under 45 with diabetes has increased by 167 percent.

There are multiple risk factors for Type 2 diabetes. Many of these, like family history, can’t be changed. However, you can avoid or change some of these risk factors, such as smoking. We have known for some time that smoking can worsen the complications of diabetes.

New findings from the 2014 Surgeon General’s Report now confirm that smoking causes Type 2 diabetes.

Smokers have more abdominal or belly fat. This kind of fat makes the body more resistant to insulin.

Nicotine in cigarette smoke may make the body more resistant to insulin as well. This means that smokers with diabetes may need to take more insulin and have worse control of their blood sugar than nonsmokers.

Smokers with diabetes are more likely to have diseases that result from damaged blood vessels, such as heart disease and stroke. Chemicals in cigarette smoke cause injury to the cells lining the blood vessels. This interferes with the body’s ability to control blood clotting.

In an effort to improve our community health, the Bartholomew County Health Department will provide a community smoking cessation program. The American Lung Association curriculum, Freedom from Smoking, covers an eight-week period where participants can come and learn about tips and resources to help quit tobacco. The class is $35 for materials, but medication is available for participants who qualify and are residents of Bartholomew County. The class is expected to start April 9 and meets every Wednesday from 6 to 7:30 p.m. until May 28 at Our Hospice of South Central Indiana at 2626 E. 17th St. in Columbus. Participants are encouraged to pre-register and pay to ensure they have a spot in the class. If interested, email or call Debra Richard at or 812-379-4927.

If you cannot attend a class, there are other resources available through the Indiana Tobacco Quitline. It is a free, phone-based counseling service available 24/7. It now offers a complete Web-based option as well as a text message service that sends encouraging messages. The Quitline can be accessed at 800-784-8669. Those who enroll in the community class will automatically be enrolled in these additional services.

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