Secondhand Smoke Increases Diabetes, Obesity Risk

By Amir Khan on June 25, 2012 9:31 AM EDT

Smoking
Secondhand smoke is already linked to an increased risk for cancer, emphysema and other lung diseases, but it can also raise the risk for type 2 diabetes and obesity. (Photo: Reuters/Suzanne Plunkett)

Secondhand smoke is already linked to an increased risk for cancer, emphysema and other lung diseases, but according to new research presented at the Endocrine Society's annual meeting in Houston on Sunday, it can also raise the risk for type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Researchers analyzed data from over 6,300 adults and found that compared to non-smokers, those exposed to secondhand smoke had a higher rate of type 2 diabetes and had a higher body mass index. They also found that people exposed to secondhand smoke had a higher rate of insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes and a higher hemoglobin A1C reading, which is a measure of blood sugar control.

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"The association between secondhand smoke and type 2 diabetes was not due to obesity," Dr. Theodore Friedman, study author and chairman of the department of internal medicine at Charles R. Drew University in Los Angeles, said, according to HealthDay.

Secondhand smoke can cause development problems, respiratory issues, sudden infant death syndrome, and chronic health infections, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

"Children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of secondhand smoke because they are still developing physically, have higher breathing rates than adults, and have little control over their indoor environments," the EPA said on its website. "Children exposed to high doses of secondhand smoke, such as those whose mothers smoke, run the greatest relative risk of experiencing damaging health effects."

While the study provided an association between obesity, diabetes and secondhand smoke, researchers stressed that they did not demonstrate a cause-and-effect relationship.

"More studies are needed to show whether secondhand smoke is a cause of diabetes," and "more effort needs to be made to reduce exposure of individuals to secondhand smoke," Friedman said.

© 2012 iScience Times All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

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