Smoking raises Asians’ chances of getting diabetes

/ 11:52 PM April 16, 2018


SAN DIEGO, California — Asian American active smokers increase their susceptibility to diabetes by 30-40% compared with nonsmokers, according to major medical societies, the U.S. Surgeon General, and recent studies.

“Smoking is directly linked to lung, throat, and other types of cancer, but according to the 2014 Health Consequences of Smoking Report of the Surgeon General, there is now adequate evidence to infer that smoking causes diabetes, too,” said Dr. Caroline Chen, postdoctoral fellow in public health at the University of California, San Diego.


One way to reduce diabetes risk is to quit smoking. The Asian Smokers’ Quitline Chinese line can help smokers quit.


A CDC funded nationwide program, ASQ Chinese Quitline provides free one-on-one counseling by phone and free nicotine patches to qualified smokers in Cantonese and Mandarin. Friends and family of smokers can also call ASQ 1-800-838-8917 to receive information and advice about how to help smokers quit.


According to the Centers for Disease Control, smokers with diabetes have higher risks for serious complications, including:

  • Heart and kidney disease
  • Poor blood flow in the legs and feet that can lead to infections, ulcers, and possible amputation (removal of a body part by surgery, such as toes or feet)
  • Retinopathy (an eye disease that can cause blindness)
  • Peripheral neuropathy (damaged nerves to the arms and legs that causes numbness, pain, weakness, and poor coordination)

“In some cases, smoking can double the risk for life harming, and life threatening complications associated with diabetes like kidney failure,” said Dr. Ho Luong Tran, President & CEO of NCAPIP, an organization of doctors aimed at raising awareness of diabetes and cancers that disproportionately affect Asian Americans. “Smoking has been shown to raise blood sugar and may make the body more resistant to insulin, so it’s really bad for someone with diabetes,” said Cherrie Ng, project manager of ASQ. “ASQ wants to help smokers manage diabetes. We urge smokers to contact ASQ Chinese Quitline (1-800-838-8917) and make a quit attempt today! Besides providing service in Cantonese and Mandarin, ASQ also offers other service lines to help smokers who speak Korean and Vietnamese”.

If you are of Asian descent with a body mass index of 23 (you can calculate at: ) talk to your doctor about being screened for type 2 diabetes. For more information about diabetes in Asian Americans, go to

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TAGS: Asian Smokers’ Quitline, Centers for Disease Control, diabetes risk, Dr. Caroline Chen, quitting smoking, smoking dangers, University of California in San Diego
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