Researchers in the US have carried out the study and found that nicotine in cigarettes is strongly linked to persistently raised blood sugar levels among diabetics, and this may cause serious complications in smokers with diabetes.
"It`s already well-established that smoking increases risk of problems in people with diabetes. What wasn`t clear is if there is a specific component of cigarettes that increases the risk.
"(Now) It is the first study to establish a strong link between nicotine and diabetes complications. If you`re a smoker and have diabetes, you should be concerned and make every effort to quit smoking," researcher Xiao Chuan Liu said.
For their study, the researchers added equal amounts of glucose (sugar) to samples of human red blood cells. They also added varying levels of nicotine to each sample of red blood cells for either one day or two days.
They then tested the hemoglobin A1C (HbA1C) levels of the samples. HbA1C is a measure of what percentage of red blood cells have glucose molecules attached to them.
The study found that nicotine raised HbA1C. The smallest dose increased HbA1C levels by 8.8 per cent The highest dose, after two days of nicotine treatment, increased blood sugar levels by 34.5 per cent.
Liu said: "Nicotine is a toxic substance, and our results show that nicotine caused an increase in HbA1C. This is important for the public to know, and for smokers to know.
"It`s not just the cigarette smoke. If you think you can just use a nicotine replacement product indefinitely, there`s still a risk and your chances of getting complications will be a lot higher."
The findings have been presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society.