Swiss researchers have discovered that smokers also face an increased risk of developing diabetes besides lung cancer and heart disease, the local Swissinfo website reported on Wednesday.
Those who light up regularly face a 44 percent increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared with non-smokers, according to the report.
"We knew a few studies had already assessed this link, but we didn't expect to find so many -- we found 25 studies and all except one showed that smokers faced an increased risk of diabetes," Carole Willi from Lausanne University told Swissinfo.
Willi and colleagues conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies describing the association between active smoking and the incidence of type 2 diabetes or other glucose metabolism irregularities.
Type 2 diabetes -- the form of the disease often associated with excess body weight, poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle – is becoming increasingly common in many countries, including Switzerland.
Willi found that the risk of developing this type of diabetes was even higher for heavy smokers. Those who sparked up at least 20 times a day had a 61 percent higher risk for diabetes than non-smokers.
She also found that quitting smoking reduced the danger, with former smokers seeing a 23 percent higher risk than non-smokers, far lower than the risk for current smokers.
"On a public health level, this is very important because diabetes incidence is dramatically increasing. The avoidance of diabetes would then be another good reason for smokers to quit or for non-smokers not to begin," Willi said.
Willi admitted that the primary studies used for the review could not prove smoking was a cause of diabetes, but she said they did meet several recommended criteria to suggest this.
(Xinhua News Agency December 13, 2007)