Non-smokers who breathe in other people’s cigarette smoke are at significantly higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, research published on Friday shows.
“Passive smoking” increases a non-smoker’s chances of becoming a diabetic by 22% compared with the chances for those who have never inhaled tobacco smoke, the study says.
It is well known that active smokers are more likely to develop diabetes, and these latest findings assess that risk as being 37%. Former smokers are also at an increased risk – put at 14% more than for those who have never lit up – of type 2 diabetes, which itself increases the risk of stroke, heart attack and blindness.
The NHS has warned that 80% of “secondhand” smoke is invisible and that it can raise the risk of meningitis, cancer, bronchitis and pneumonia.
The findings are contained in a meta-analysis of 88 previous studies, covering almost six million participants. It looked at the link between active and passive smoking, and was published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology medical journal. Both smoking and inhalation of secondhand smoke were “associated with significantly increased risks of type 2 diabetes”, the authors concluded.
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of the anti-smoking charity Ash, said: “We already know that smoking increases the risk of type 2 diabetes but it now appears that people exposed to secondhand smoke and former smokers are also at risk.
“We advise smokers with diabetes who want to stop smoking to use licensed nicotine products or electronic cigarettes which will deal with any cravings and will help them manage their diet to avoid putting on excess weight.”
The authors said that accumulating evidence suggested that secondhand smoke could also be a concern for diabetes risk, as was smoking. “Reduction of active smoking should automatically reduce the prevalence of secondhand smoke exposure.”