Does alcohol and tobacco use increase the risk of diabetes?

Answer From Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.

Yes, alcohol and tobacco use may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Alcohol

Although studies show that drinking moderate amounts of alcohol may actually lower the risk of diabetes, the opposite is true for people who drink greater amounts of alcohol.

Moderate alcohol use is defined as one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than age 65, and up to two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger.

Too much alcohol may cause chronic inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), which can impair its ability to secrete insulin and potentially lead to diabetes.

Tobacco

Tobacco use can increase blood sugar levels and lead to insulin resistance. The more you smoke, the greater your risk of diabetes.

People who smoke heavily — more than 20 cigarettes a day — have almost double the risk of developing diabetes compared with people who don’t smoke.

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July 11, 2020 See more Expert Answers