Smoking and Diabetes

Author: Elio F. Gagliano, MD
Article Published: 26/11/2008

SURSUM CORDA: slowly but certainly, humanity is approaching immortality. Vaccines and antibiotics have nearly vanquished all types of infections and, as days go by, the New Medicine is discovering the single cause of most, if not all, diseases. Once the cause has been confirmed, the only way people will die will be from accidents, murders and suicides. But that is a problem for the politicians, easily solved by issuing appropriate bans. The trouble of overpopulation will be technologically overcome by building cities in the oceans and the seas, and relocating people to man-made planets. Food is not a predicament: Genetically Modified Organisms will take care of all is needed.

Historians and researchers will be busy trying to find out how people used to die prior to the fifteenth century when tobacco became popular in Europe. After that, as we all know, the single cause of all diseases is smoking tobacco, as is irrefutably demonstrated by  an incalculable quantity of "studies" and "research".

One of the recent discovery is the cause of diabetes.

Glancing at a magazine while waiting my turn in a dentist's office, I came across an article on climate taken from Science Daily. Back home, having no idea what Science Daily was, I looked it up on the internet and found out that, according to Wikipedia,  it is  "A free online news source, whose articles are selected from news releases submitted by universities and other research institutions”. So I started to roam through its articles, and found a couple of eye-catching ones correlating diabetes to smoking, one taken from the British Medical Journal, the other one from JAMA (Journal of American Medical Association). The latter one was dated December 12, 2007, and reported the "consistent finding of increased diabetes incidence associated with active cigarette smoking across a large number of studies, between 1992 and 2006, for a total of 1.2 million participants".(1)

“Oh gosh!”, I exclaimed, “with such a number of participants, they will impress anybody!”, even though the authors concluded with this: "We recommend that future studies focus on plausible causal mechanisms or mediating factors such as obesity, lack of physical activity, dietary habits, and stress levels." References to further studies served the purpose of protecting the authors from the denigration of well-versed specialists as, I am sure, they could not have been unaware of the nonsense.  
As a matter of fact, the main point of the article was not the advancement of science, but the bamboozling of people with the shocking title:
"Smoking Associated With Increased Risk Of Diabetes"

After all, it is well known that the majority reads just the titles.

While still thumbing through the Science Daily, I ran into another eye-catching title delivered by the prestigious British Medical Journal of April 17, 2006:
"New Research Shows Second-hand Smoke Raises Diabetes Risk"(2)

 “Here come the vultures” I thought. Actually, I expected to see some loafers writing something like that. After all, all they have to do is make phone calls to patients suffering from one pathology or another, ask them if in the past somebody had been smoking around them, and the paper is ready for publication in a medical journal. That, in turn, makes news for newspapers and magazines and le jeu est fait: Big Pharma is there to curb the incidence of diabetes helping smokers to quit their vice!

If someone thinks that I am being nonsensical, it is because he doesn’t know that there is a sharp increment of diabetes, not just in the United States, but all over the world.  On October 31, 2008, the MMWR (Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report) stated that, in the USA, the incidence rate of diabetes increased from 4.8 per 1000 people in 1995–1997 to 9.1 in the period 2005–2007(3).

According to the majority of studies, this crescendo is bound mainly to the increasing incidence of obesity and the lack of physical activity. Smoking has nothing to do with it, for no other reason that in the Western World over the past few decades the number of smokers not only has diminished but, because of widespread bans, smokers are said to smoke less. Exposure to environmental tobacco smoke has been greatly reduced.  And one has to read these mischief-makers who find that smoking makes the rate of diabetes climb up while the smoke itself goes down?  If I played the game according to their syllogism, I could come out with the conclusion that smoking diminishes the risk of diabetes!

A few weeks ago I wrote in Forces Italy another article (4) pillorying the director of the Clinic of Respiratory diseases of Catania’s University, Italy, who claimed that hospitalization of patients with respiratory problems had diminished since the advent of the smoking ban in Italy. His statement sounded particularly ridiculous as in Berlin, Germany, the Annual Congress of the European Respiratory Society (ERS) of   October 4 - 8, 2008, issued a warning about the continued increase of respiratory pathology all over Europe, especially among children and teenagers.
It is evident that articles and press releases like the aforementioned ones have nothing to do with science. Why then would they publish such absurdities? I believe that the list of possible reasons is a long one and I’ll let everyone figure it by himself.

But one thing I am sure of: Pseudo scientific articles of this type serve the purpose of keeping alive the bugaboo of the century: the cigarette.  And of keeping the sales of anti-smoking drugs go higher and higher.

(1) Smoking Associated With Increased Risk Of Diabetes

(2) Science Daily - New Research Shows ETS Raises Diabetes Risk

(3) State-Specific Incidence of Diabetes Among Adults

(4) Less ETS; more respiratory ailments (Italian)

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