While smoking is commonly associated with a higher risk of developing a serious disease, it’s not often that second-hand smoke or being an ex-smoker is considered even riskier. If the disease is type 2 diabetes, however, it is.
Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston examined a health study that has tracked a cohort of 100,526 women nurses since 1982. They found that although women smokers run a higher risk of getting type 2 diabetes than nonsmokers, it’s ex-smokers and women exposed to second-hand smoke who run the greatest risk.
Statistics derived from 24 years of follow-up to the 1982 Nurses’ Health Study showed that 25 nonsmokers out of every 10,000 women developed type 2 in any given year. The number for smokers was 30 per 10,000, and it went up to 39 per 10,000 among ex-smokers and women who had regularly been exposed to second-hand smoke.
The original study asked respondents about their smoking habits and exposure to second-hand smoke. Researchers were able to key in on those initial responses as they tracked later onsets of type 2.
Overall, in the 24 years since the study began, one in 18 of the nurses surveyed developed type 2. In the general U.S. population, the number is one in 13.
The researchers said that while the statistics show a link between smoking and diabetes, they do not show causation.