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Smoke Exposure Increases Risk of Diabetes, U.S. Study Shows

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http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid= ... fer=canada

April 7 (Bloomberg) -- People who breathe second-hand smoke face a greater risk of developing diabetes, a new study said, the first time the disease has been linked to passive smoking.

About 17 percent of passive smokers in the study developed glucose intolerance compared with less than 12 percent of people who had no exposure to second-hand smoke, according to research published in tomorrow's issue of the British Medical Journal. As many as 22 percent of smokers had raised glucose intolerance, researcher Thomas Houston found.

``We identified passive tobacco exposure in never smokers as a new risk factor for glucose intolerance,'' wrote Houston, an associate professor of medicine at the Birmingham Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Alabama, adding that policy makers may use the research as additional justification to reduce exposure to cigarette smoke.

The findings provide further evidence that second-hand smoke may affect health beyond the known risks of contributing to cancer and heart disease. Ireland, Norway, Italy and Sweden have banned smoking in enclosed public places such as bars and restaurants in recent years to cut exposure to second-hand smoke.

Houston studied the smoking habits of 4,572 men and women aged 18 years to 30 years and their glucose intolerance, a condition where the body can no longer produce enough insulin to regulate blood sugar, 15 years later. Both active and passive smoking have an effect on glucose intolerance, Houston found.

The chemical reactions that produce second-hand smoke mean that passive smokers may breathe in more toxins than actual smokers. These toxins may affect the pancreas, the organ that produces insulin, Houston said.

Second-hand smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals, including 69 known carcinogens such as formaldehyde, lead, arsenic, benzene, and radioactive polonium 210. Passive smoking has been linked to lung cancer, heart disease, sudden infant death syndrome, bronchitis and asthma.

About 20.8 million people, or 7 percent of the population, had diabetes in 2005 in the U.S., according to the National Institutes of Health.

To contact the reporter on this story:

Chantal Britt at cbritt@bloomberg.net

Last Updated: April 7, 2006 02:44 EDT

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