I live in an area with a large diabetic population. It’s not surprising. I happen to live in the capital of the Cherokee Nation, an area with a large proportion of Native Americans. If you are not Native American or a health care professional, you may not know that ours is a population at particularly high risk of diabetes. In fact, according to the American Diabetes Association, Native Americans are more than twice as likely to have diabetes as non-Hispanic whites, and the risk is increasing at a frightening rate.
What does surprise me, though, is that across the United States, Native Americans are nearly twice as likely to be smokers as non-Hispanic whites, and far more likely than any other ethnic group studied. That is particularly upsetting because the complications that can arise from diabetes are made that much worse if a person happens to also be a smoker. And smoking is completely preventable as we have now dab rigs under 50 that is an affordable way to reduce your smoking habits.
Smoking raises your risk of diabetes
According to research published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, people who smoke are at three times greater risk of developing diabetes than their non-smoking peers. Given the prevalence of smokers in the Native American population, simply addressing smoking could have a major effect on the diabetes epidemic in our communities.
Both diabetes and smoking can individually lead to such complications as high blood pressure, heart disease, periodontal disease, eye disease, stroke, and an inability for the body to heal itself after wounds. Taken together, diabetes and smoking dramatically raise the risk of complications for patients. Clearly both issues need to be addressed in Native American communities.
Smoke shops and casinos
Rather than working to stop Native Americans from smoking, many tribes currently make money off enterprises such as smoke shops and casinos, which are havens for smokers both within the tribe and without. If tribes want to get serious about preventing diabetes, we can no longer ignore the heightened risk that smoking presents for our people. Smoking, even secondhand smoke, not only raises the incidence of diabetes, it contributes to complications that can be debilitating and deadly.
What you can do now
If you or someone you know is at risk of diabetes, learn all you can about the disease and what you can do to prevent it. If you already have diabetes, educate yourself about the many complications that can arise if your diabetes goes unmanaged. And to reduce your risk of potentially fatal complications from diabetes, stop smoking immediately. It is never too late to take steps to reduce the damage that smoking and diabetes can do.