It’s common knowledge that diabetes and smoking just don’t mix. But there are sick people out there who just can’t or refuse to quit, exposing themselves to serious health risks. Is switching to electronic cigarettes a safer alternative for them? Diabetes expert Sue Marshall seems to think so.
James Dunworth, from the Ashtray Blog had the brilliant idea to interview Sue Marshall about the impact of electronic cigarettes on diabetes sufferers, compared to that of tobacco analogs. There has been much speculation about the use of e-cigarettes by people with Type 1 or 2 diabetes, but Marshall agreed to answer some pretty important questions regarding the subject. She herself was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 1972 and has since then dedicated her life to helping others get informed on the disease, by setting up an online resource for people with diabetes. She’s also the author of “Diabetes: The Essential Guide”, so it’s safe to say she’s an expert on the subject.
But before we find out what she had to say about the effect of e-cigarettes on diabetes patients, it’s important to know why tobacco is even more hazardous for people diagnosed with this condition. “If you’re diabetic and you smoke, then you are doing double jeopardy. Diabetes alone is a huge strain upon your body, your heart and circulatory system in particular. To then put smoking on top of that, with its direct affect on lungs, heart and circulatory system really is just asking for trouble,” Marshall said in the interview. “Smoking is bad for anyone, but as mentioned, the body of someone who has diabetes is already under more strain than that of a non-diabetic. Adding smoking to the mix means twice as much strain, and the potential for twice as much damage.”
But what about e-cigarettes, do they present the same kind of risks to diabetes sufferers? According to Sue Marshall, “a diabetic who is struggling to give up can give themselves a helping hand by at least giving one of these (e-cigarettes) a go.” Asked if the sugar flavourings in electronic cigarette flavours (inhaled not ingested) are likely to affect people with diabetes, she said that “While some of the sugars in the replacement electronic cigarettes could possibly affect your blood sugars, they are in very low concentrations, so in the big picture — so long as you are not chain-smoking — they should not affect your blood sugar levels. Giving up smoking may not have a direct reflection in your diabetes control – in many ways you need to watch out for increasing the number of snacks you have when you would previously have had a cigarette. But giving up or switching to e-cigs will improve your health. Your body can rejuvenate and you will feel better for it. And if you can’t give up completely, consider using electronic cigarettes!”
There was one more important thing addressed by a comment on the Ashtray Blog that Sue Marshall was glad to clarify: doesn’t nicotine increase blood sugar levels? If you are inhaling nicotine when vaping, just like you did smoking, how does it help diabetes patients? Here’s Marshall’s answer: “As nicotine is a stimulant, it could increase adrenaline which is associated with releasing energy stored in the liver… but the amounts would be quite small, and therefore rises in blood sugars would be minimal, nothing on the same scale as, say, having a glass of coke or a chocolate bar. If the amounts of nicotine is less in an e-cigarette, than this rise will be even smaller, even negligible. You will also be getting less of the other toxins associated with smoking tobacco, so an e-cigg is a better option.”
It’s good to see that not everyone is an anti-nicotine and tobacco zealot. Although completely giving up smoking is the best way to go, some people just aren’t strong enough to do it, so they need an alternative. For some, the usual NRTs (nicotine replacement therapies) work, but others need to replicate the act of smoking in order to get their minds off tobacco cigs, and that’s where e-cigarettes come into play. If more people learned to accept that, we’d have a lot of people enjoying a smoke-free lifestyle.
Important: If you are suffering from diabetes and are considering switching to electronic cigarettes, please consult your doctor first!