Diabetes Self-Management Blog

You may already know that smoking increases the risk for Type 2 diabetes, and that it can increase a person’s risk of diabetes complications such as circulation problems, nerve damage, and kidney disease. A recent study, however, looked at people with Type 1 diabetes and found a link between smoking and severe hypoglycemia (dangerously low blood glucose levels).

The study, published in the June issue of the journal Diabetes Care, analyzed data collected from 537 people with Type 1 diabetes who participated in the Wisconsin Epidemiologic Study of Diabetic Retinopathy. The researchers divided these people into three groups: those who had never smoked (58%), those who had smoked in the past but quit successfully at least one year before the study (27%), and those who currently smoked (15%).

After adjusting for factors such as age, sex, HbA1c, alcohol consumption, waist-to-hip ratio, intensive insulin treatment, and history of severe hypoglycemia, the researchers found that people who currently smoked had almost three times the risk of experiencing severe hypoglycemia than those who had never smoked. For the purposes of the study, severe hypoglycemia was defined as loss of consciousness or being hospitalized overnight because of hypoglycemia.

The researchers theorized that smoking may possibly cause too much insulin to build up in the blood, leading to low blood glucose levels. In addition, smoking can increase the body’s secretion of certain hormones that work against the action of insulin, leading smokers to need to inject more insulin, thereby increasing their risk of hypoglycemia.

For an online guide and support system for quitting smoking, please visit www.smokefree.gov.


  1. Smoking is like increasing the cost of reasonable care by a considerable amount. It wasn’t until I quit and found that the hypoglycemic reactions plagued me for three days without any further changes to my regimen. I went from 40u NPH to 30 and am now on 21 of Lantus since its release a few years ago. The cessation put 40% of my cost back in my pocket. I can’t help but smile about the long-running effects. It’s good advice for anyone. It’s a must for diabetics.

    Posted by PatientDiligence |
  2. since i have been suffering from diabetes type 1 for a last decade i have few queries n concerns about the disease,its almost 3years i have been smoking with unstable glucose levels uncontrolled cholestrol levels n lately i guess m facing low vision quality so i wanted to ask does it have to take with smoking or my blood sugar levels are coming high because of my erratic bio-clock as if i wake up at 12pm in the noon n then take first short of insulin then at 5pm,10pm n the final one at b/w 1.30 to 2.30am n i go to bed bear 4…
    i will appreciate if u help me by replying me back withe correct measures…

    Posted by Chirag Chadha |
  3. Very interesting article. Personally, I have noticed when I smoke cigarettes, if my numbers are stable at the moment (between 100-150), I do not have any issues. Although, if my numbers are higher or lower, they tend to stay in that glucose range, or sometimes even go more high or low due to the smoking.

    Posted by Jake |

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