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By Lisa Foster-McNulty, MSN, RN, CDE

New research published online in Diabetes Care suggests that adult smokers with Type 1 diabetes have higher A1c levels and worse metabolic outcomes than do non-smokers. 

Calling all smokers…did you know that if you have Type 1 and smoke, your A1c is likely higher than it would be if you were a non-smoker?  That’s true for your cholesterol levels, too.  You can change that! At Medical University in Innsbruck, Austria, scientists showed that smoking can also raise the risk of having complications to the body’s blood vessels in people who have Type 1 diabetes.  And Sabine E. Hofer MD, PhD and colleagues analyzed data from the T1D Exchange Registry and the Prospective Diabetes Follow-up Registry in Germany and Austria.  This cohort included 20, 405 adults with Type 1 diabetes who had been diagnosed at least one year ago. 

The researchers wanted to learn more about the association between smoking status and metabolic outcomes.  Participants who smoked at least one cigarette per day were considered to be smokers.  Other groups included former smokers and never smokers.  Those who smoked were found to have significantly higher A1c levels as compared to non-smokers.  Even after adjusting for sex, age, and diabetes duration, this association still existed.  As compared to non-smokers, smokers were also found to have higher levels of triglycerides and LDL cholesterol.   The researchers said their data clearly showed higher A1c levels and additional unfavorable cholesterol levels in adult smokers with Type 1.  They also showed a higher number of former smokers in the United States, which suggests that strategies to decrease tobacco consumption and smoke-free policies have been more successful in the US than in Europe.

If you have diabetes and smoke, quitting will reduce your risk of developing complications such as heart disease. 

There are many ways to quit.  Try reaching out to your local hospital system to see if they have a quit program.  Some states have a free quitline.  Many people use acupuncture, hypnosis, or group therapy.  Nicotine replacement therapy or anti-smoking medications prescribed by your doctor such as bupropion and varenicline can help.  Support is available, so make sure you have that safety net.  You’ll feel better and lower your risk… that’s a win-win!        

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