In February of 2019, the journal Acta Diabetology reported on the results of a study on smoking and various other factors on kidney disease in people who had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Researchers at the University of Leicester and the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom combined thirteen studies on the subject and analyzed the results as if they were one large study of 20,056 participants who had Type 2 diabetes.

When the kidneys lose their normal ability to filter blood, albumin a blood protein spills out into the urine. One way kidney disease is diagnosed is with a test for albumin in the urine. The risk of having albuminuria, or albumin in the urine, was more than twice as high for smokers as for nonsmokers.

  • advanced age raised the risk 24 percent,
  • duration of diabetes raised it 78 percent,
  • systolic (upper number) blood pressure raised it more than six times, and diastolic (lower number) blood pressure raised it 85 percent.

The participants who continued to smoke raised their risk of albuminuria about 23 percent each year. After nine years, the smoking participants had increased their risk to 53 percent. After 16 years smokers raised their risk almost six times. From these results, the investigators concluded that smoking cessation should take place early in the disease.

About 25 percent of people with Type 2 diabetes have kidney disease. High levels of sugar in the blood damage the blood vessels which make up a large part of the kidneys. Tobacco smoke contains chemicals that also damage blood vessels, putting the individual at risk for atherosclerosis, a buildup of waxy substance on the inside of the vessels. The accumulation lowers the kidneys’ ability to filter waste out of the blood and make hormones necessary for good health.

Nicotine in tobacco is highly addictive, so it is not a good idea to not start to smoke. Fortunately, there is help for those already addicted. The World Health Organisation publishes “A Guide for Tobacco Users to Quit,” with…

  • information on getting ready to quit,
  • planning a program for quitting, and
  • local sources for cessation support.

According to the National Institutes of Health in the United States, other factors that raise the risk of diabetic kidney disease are…

  • not following a healthy eating plan,
  • eating foods with high salt content,
  • being inactive,
  • being overweight or obese,
  • having heart disease, and
  • having a family history of kidney failure.

Knowledge is power. If you have Type 2 diabetes, it is wise to see a nephrologist at least once a year to get the very best care.

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