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Quitting smoking linked to deterioration in diabetes control

Sufferers of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) who quit smoking are likely to see a temporary deterioration in their glycaemic control, which could last up to three years, according to new research published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.

In the 3,131 (29%) people who quit smoking for at least one year, HbA1c - which is an average measurement indicating how well the body controls blood glucose levels - increased by 0.21% before decreasing gradually. Therefore, immediately after quitting smoking there will be a slight increase in the risk of developing diabetes-related complications, which researchers say nurses must be prepared for. However, this will change to a decrease in the long term, so quitting smoking is still highly recommended.

The research team, led by Dr Deborah Lycett of Coventry University examined the primary care records of 10,692 adult smokers with T2DM over six years to investigate whether or not quitting was associated with altered diabetes control.

Principal investigator Dr Deborah Lycett from Coventry University's Faculty of Health and Life Sciences said: “Knowing that deterioration in blood glucose control occurs around the time of stopping smoking helps to prepare those with diabetes and their clinicians to be proactive in tightening their glycaemic control during this time.”

Previous research has shown that just a 1% reduction in the HbA1c level of someone with diabetes will result in them being 16% less likely to suffer heart failure and 37% less likely to experience microvascular complications.

“Stopping smoking is crucial for preventing complications that lead to early death in those with diabetes. So people with diabetes should continue to make every effort to stop smoking, and at the same time they should expect to take extra care to keep their blood glucose well controlled and maximise the benefits of smoking cessation,” Lycett said.