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Study links second-hand smoke and type 2 diabetes

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One more reason to steer clear of smokers.

Exposure to second-hand smoke increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to a new study published in the journal Diabetes Care.

Such a link was previously unknown to researchers, Dr. David Nathan, head of the Diabetes Center at Massachusetts General Hospital and a professor at Harvard Medical School, told Reuters.

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"This just reinforces the lesson from a public health point of view that we've been stressing for decades," he said.

The study, led by Dr. John P. Forman, an associate physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, examined questions filled out by more than 100, 000 women, all of them nurses, in 1982. Those questionnaires, part of a study several decades long, included information on the amount of time the women spent around cigarette smoke.

Over the course of the next 24 years, one in 18 women developed diabetes.

Women who were ex-smokers and those exposed to second hand smoke were found to have the highest risk of developing diabetes, with about 39 of every 10, 000 women in this group developing the disease each year. After controlling for factors such as age, weight and family history of diabetes, researchers found that ex-smokers were 12 per cent more likely to develop diabetes.

By comparison, in the group of women who smoked more than two packs a day, about 30 out of 10, 000 got diabetes every year.

And the women who didn't smoke or spend time exposed to second-hand smoke? About 25 out of 10, 000 women in this group developed diabetes every year.

While the study only looked at women, Dr. Nathan told Reuters its results likely apply just as equally to men.

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"There's no a priori reason to think that this wouldn't apply to men as well," said.

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About the Author

Dave McGinn writes about fitness trends for the Life section and also reports for Globe Arts. Prior to joining the Globe, he was a freelance journalist, covering topics from trying to eat Michael Phelps' diet to why the Joker is the best villain in comics history. He's working on improving his 10k time. More

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