If A = B, Can B = A?

Did you see the report saying that people who stop smoking are at higher risk for getting Type 2 diabetes?


Hmmmm… I quit smoking. Does that mean if I start lighting up again my diabetes will go away?

I do enjoy smoking and, although I haven’t had a cigarette in ages, I think about them every day. It’s only by some very strong willpower that I refrain from starting up again. But if it gets rid of my diabetes, it may be worth it. Monetarily, anyway. Even with the escalating cost of cigarettes — what with all of the “sin taxes” added to the cost — it has to be cheaper to smoke than to have diabetes.

By all rights, I shouldn’t have diabetes, if Diane Fennell’s December 24 blog is to be believed. In it, she reports on research noting that drinking more coffee and tea “appears to lower the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.”

Heck, I’ve been drinking both coffee and tea as long as I can remember.

One of my earliest memories is of sitting on my grandfather’s lap at the breakfast table, while he fed me sips of his coffee from a teaspoon. Granted, his was more cream than coffee, but because of that early experience, I was drinking my coffee black from the time I was an adolescent.

Tea? I grew up in the south. We didn’t drink a lot of hot tea, but iced tea was a common drink at the dinner table and a pitcher of it could always be found in the refrigerator. Now, I don’t know if the research noted a difference between iced tea in the South and iced tea anywhere else. It didn’t say. (For those of you who are out of the loop, Southern iced tea is more sugar than tea.)

Today, I drink my iced tea with nothing added: no sugar, no sweetener. I might put about one-fourth of a package of artificial sweetener in hot tea. I’m also finding myself having to specify — even here in the Great American Midwest — that I want unsweetened tea when I go out to eat. Seems that oversweetened Southern-style tea is making its way onto menus no matter where you live. In my opinion, that’s a stupid idea. All we need is the food industry pushing more sugar on us.

Back to the studies, I grew up on coffee and tea — and still drink both, plus water, for the most part. I smoked cigarettes for much of my life, but no longer do. And I go back to my original question: If quitting leads to Type 2 diabetes, will it go away if I start smoking again?

It’s tempting, and will be especially so when the weather gets warmer. My favorite part of the day was always about 5 AM, sitting on the porch with coffee and a cigarette, watching the new day arrive. (Frankly, if I could stop with just a couple of cigarettes in the morning, I’d do it.)

Of course, the research also determined that starting smoking can cause people to get Type 2 diabetes. But if I’m not really starting, but just re-entering, will the diabetes go away?

I don’t put much store in these studies, anyway. According to various and sundry research papers, breastfed babies shouldn’t get diabetes. But I know somebody whose toddler son got Type 1 diabetes… while he was being breastfed.

Drinking coffee lowers your risk. But drinking coffee also can cause your blood glucose to rise. Aren’t higher blood glucose values tied to diabetes?

Also, what about those hundreds… nay, thousands… of research mice who have been cured of diabetes? If we do get diabetes, should we try to come back as a mouse so we can be cured?

Oh, I have to tell you about my favorite one, that I read several years ago. Researchers studied two groups of people: one with sedentary jobs and the other with jobs that required activity. The people with sedentary jobs were at greater risk of getting diabetes. Why? Because they ate more hamburgers than the ditchdiggers (or whatever they did). No, I’m not joking.

A man I know who was a camera operator for a television news show used to drag into my office and ask me to check his blood glucose (which was always high) and give him a hug. (Think he was depressed?) He finally left that job, moved, and got a job in another town working as a groundskeeper and gravedigger for a cemetery. When I saw him some months after that, he was energetic, slimmer, and his depression was gone. I dunno why. Maybe it was because he didn’t have time to go to McDonald’s to eat hamburgers.

You have to read some research with a grain of salt. And you have to know that research results don’t apply to everybody. But I’d really like to know if smoking will make my Type 2 diabetes go away.

I’m sure there’s an ashtray around here somewhere. Not to mention a glider on the front porch waiting for me.

Learn more about the health and medical experts who who provide you with the cutting-edge resources, tools, news, and more on Diabetes Self-Management.
About Our Experts >>

  • Erika

    I was confounded when I was diagnosed with type two diabetes. After all, I drank gallons of tea and coffee every week, exercised regularly, and wasn’t too much overweight (well, maybe a little too much). And I gave up smoking, which was, in many instances, my raison d’etre. Now, I’m second guessing myself: would it have been better to face the possibility of lung cancer, emphysema and other related breathing problems while enjoying my coffee and cig, or give up that enjoyment for the chance of possible blindness, amputation and myriad other complications of diabetes. Hmmm, my jury is still out.

  • Michael Hutch

    In the last 3 months in the media I’ve seen two sets of conflicting data.
    One researcher says if you take anti-oxidants this leads to insulin resistance (well at least the blood glucose levels in a few mice said so.
    Yet another researcher says that high anti-oxidant juices (such as purple carrot juice) reverses obesity and diabetes (insulin resistance) in a few mice presumably by DECREASING insulin resistance.
    I hate it in medical research when its always the obvious case of BLOW YOUR OWN TRUMPET!

    What do you think? Anti-oxidants, friend or foe?
    In days gone by it was thought anti-oxidants mopped up free radicals generated through normal metabolism, and therefore prolonged your life a bit (if you believe the aging theory that free radicals causing so much damage to your tissues and organs).
    Do you still take anti-oxidant supplements? Which one? Vit C, Vit E, Acai berries, selenium, purple carrot juice, cocoa powder?

    I take vit c and cocoa powder.

    Michael Hutch

  • Marcie

    This was an entertaining read!

    About the sweetened tea, though. . . Nowadays commercially sweetened teas don’t have sugar in them so much as high-fructose corn syrup, and we know what a villian that has turned out to be.

    Also, with the nursing kids not developing diabetes — is that type 1 or type 2? I mean, I thought I read that nursing is supposed to make type 2 less likely in adulthood. Maybe we read different studies, though.

    Thanks again for the smiles.

  • Beth

    Jan, I just wanted to say that I always look forward to and always enjoy your posts. Thanks for doing them and please keep them coming. Glad your leg seems to finally be healing. I admire your energy; I don’t accomplish half of what you do! Oh, maybe if I start smoking…..

  • Jan Chait

    HeHe… Erika and Beth, I got a good laugh out of your comments. Thanks! I needed that! Michael, please don’t ask me to comment about antioxident-free-radical stuff! I have enough problems trying to keep up with diabetes! Marcie, I forgot about breast milk and Type 2 diabetes. Before I got around to drinking coffee and tea, I was breastfed. Or so my mother says. I don’t remember. Another reason I shouldn’t have diabetes. Dang!

    Maybe all of us “two-ies” should just have chosen our ancestors better.


  • Paul Wirth

    It is a shame that most doctor’s don’t take the time to discuss study conclusions with patients.Is it the case of limited time or a disdain of those individuals who continually keep abreast of studies?

  • Beth

    Oh. these statistical links in these studies — you DO know, don’t you, that they are just risk factors, not direct cause-and-effect?

    What I mean is that having diabetes is multi-causal. I think of it like this — each risk factor is like a small block, and each one you have makes you pile a little higher. Do you have parents and other relatives with diabetes? Add a block for each relative with diabetes. You’re a little bit overweight? Add one or two blocks. You smoke? Add another block. You’re past middle age? Add another one. You were not breast fed? Add another one. You’re more than a little overweight? Add two or three more. You don’t get much physical activity? And you eat lots of refined grains, and fats, and sugar? Add more blocks. Eventually your pile of blocks gets high, and you are diagnosed with diabetes.

    Or, you can stop eating the refined grains, and fats, and sugar, and get some physical activity every day, and lose weight, and take dome blocks off. And you MIGHT have a low enough pile to lose the diabetes symptoms. But some of the risk factors you cannot control, so you still have a pile that is medium-high, and you could go over into having diabetes again very easily. because, let’s face it, it’s too late to choose different parents.

  • Theresa

    I believe the anti-oxidant studies showed that SUPPLEMENTS either do nothing or may cause problems but getting anti-oxidants from food does have benefits.

    But I do agree that you can read one study one day and then the next day read a study that directly contrdicts the first one! (Or sometimes it seems as if it is from one hour to the next, LOL!)

  • Eva Walker

    I was breastfed and I still got Type 1 Diabetes at age 13.I d8id lots of cows milk thought from the time I was nine years old because I was told milk was good for me.After that I started getting the same symptoms tha5t felt like insulin reactions.

  • Dolores Richardson

    I also drank coffee and tea and smoked cig. and quit, I drink ice tea in the summer with sweetner. I drink 4-6 cups of coffee everyday and my diabetes don’t change. They may have cured diabetes in rats, but they are making too much money on us humans to cure it. I do belive that exercise in the answer, but when your feet and legs are numb and you can bearly walk across the floor, How do you exercise. DR