Vaping and Diabetes – Can Diabetics Vape?
Can diabetics vape? It’s a question we get asked from time to time, and it’s one we felt needed addressing.
We’re all aware of just how bad smoking is for our health, but for those with diabetes the impact could be even more severe. That’s because smoking can damage blood vessels, compounding your risk of heart disease, as well as raising your blood sugar which makes it even more difficult to keep those already flailing levels in check.
Smoking can also make your body more resistant to insulin, which again impacts your blood sugar levels. For the average person, this wouldn’t be cause for too much concern, but for someone with diabetes, elevated levels could lead to some pretty serious health complications. Considering this, if you’re someone who has diabetes then it’s a good idea to avoid smoking completely.
Can diabetics vape or is it dangerous like smoking?
Considering the excess risks caused by smoking, it’s logical to wonder whether those risks carry over to vaping as well.
While vaping is relatively new compared to smoking, every year more and more studies demonstrate that e-cigarettes are a much safer alternative to their traditional, combustible counterparts. In fact, Public Health England carried out a landmark study that established vaping devices are at least 95% safer than traditional cigarettes.
That’s because, while e-cigarettes deliver nicotine and other flavours, they contain only a fraction of the chemicals found in cigarettes. Moreover, neither the tar nor the carbon monoxide found in tobacco products are produced when you vape, and this gruesome twosome is responsible for the vast majority of smoking-related illnesses.
But although it’s proven vaping is much safer than smoking, does that automatically mean it’s also safer for those with diabetes to vape? Let’s take a look at what the science says.
Study on vascular cells
Although research on this subject is still quite patchy, there are some studies we can look at to determine whether vaping is safe for those with diabetes.
One such study was published in the Journal atherosclerosis and it found that when we vape, cells called EPCs (endothelial progenitor cells) are mobilised. Over time, repeated mobilisation of these cells caused by vaping can eventually lead to a depletion, which is a known risk-factor for heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
While studies like this demonstrate those with diabetes should certainly tread with caution, it’s worth noting that the damage to EPCs is also caused by smoking. The only difference is smoking destroys them at a much quicker rate, which is one of the main reasons smokers are 30 to 40% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than non-smokers.
Does nicotine affect blood sugar?
Another concern people with diabetes may have is the effect the nicotine can have on their blood sugar. In truth, this is a legitimate concern, as it’s been shown nicotine does have the potential to cause blood sugar levels to go up or down, which can impact the person’s health and well-being.
High blood sugar levels could raise the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. On the other hand, for those taking insulin, nicotine could also cause hypoglycemia, the term used to describe low blood glucose which can cause a multitude of negative side effects and health issues.
Research carried out around a decade ago also showed that nicotine has the potential to raise hemoglobin A1C level by up to 34% which could cause persistently elevated blood sugar levels.
Furthermore, those with increased A1C levels may be at greater risk of diabetes-related health complications including heart disease, eye disease and kidney disease, so the evidence is pretty clear that nicotine has the potential to disrupt blood sugar levels and cause issues.
Vaping products should only be for smokers or ex-smokers
The team behind the study also highlight the importance of deterring people – especially youths – from taking up vaping unless they’re doing so to quit smoking.
This is something we here at Vapoholic always repeat, as vape products are designed to help people quit smoking. While they’re a much safer alternative to combustible tobacco products, vape products are still not 100% safe, so we’d never encourage anyone who doesn’t smoke to suddenly take up vaping. If you’ve never smoked a cigarette then your best bet is to leave any products containing nicotine well alone.
On the other hand, if you’re a smoker or ex-smoker then switching to e-cigarettes is undoubtedly a positive health choice, and research such as this study merely underlines that fact.
If you’re looking to make the switch and would like some more information, check out our getting started guide. Or if you’re wondering which type of e-liquid to go for, take a look at our e-liquid guide.
Can diabetics vape? Here’s our advice
Firstly, we would recommend those with diabetes who have never smoked to avoid vaping devices completely. As we’ve discovered, both vaping and nicotine alone can potentially impact blood sugar levels, and although this shouldn’t be much to worry about for the average vaper, for those with diabetes e-cigarettes are probably something best avoided.
On the other hand, if you’re someone who’s struggling to quit smoking without the use of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products, then a useful strategy may be to use a vaping device as a cessation tool, before reducing your nicotine intake and eventually weaning yourself off your vape device completely.
By doing this you’ll be able to replace an extremely risky habit with one that’s less harmful, before going nicotine-free once you’re good and ready. The other option is going cold turkey, but this is notoriously difficult, so unless you have an iron will then using a vape device before kicking nicotine all-together could be an effective strategy and one that helps you turn your back on smoking for good.
Hopefully you now know the answer to the question ‘can diabetics vape?’ and you have a better understanding of the risks. If you’re interested in reading any other health-related information, check out our Vaping & Health guide. There, we discuss everything from vaping illnesses and diseases to the ingredients and flavourings found in e-liquids.