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People who stop smoking often replace cigarettes with food. A new study says the weight they gain may increase their diabetes risk in the short term. Type two diabetes is common in people who eat too much and exercise too little and those with a family history of it. Smoking is another risk factor. But quitting smoking may carry a temporary risk.

The study found that smokers who quit had a seventy percent increased risk of developing diabetes in the first six years. That was compared to those who had never smoked. The risks were highest in the first three years. And the risk returned to normal after ten years of not smoking. The researchers say weight gain is probably to blame for the increase. But they say smokers should stop anyway – and the real message is not to even start. Type two diabetes interferes with the key use of insulin.

The substance produced by the pancreas normally lowers blood sugar during and after eating. Over time, high blood sugar can lead to blindness, kidney failure, heart disease and nerve damage. The study is from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. It appears in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Another American study says obesity has become as great a threat to quality of life as smoking. It compared losses in what are called “quality-adjusted life years.” The study found that losses from obesity are now equal to, if not greater than, those from smoking.

These days, there are fewer smokers in the country but more people who are extremely overweight. The findings are based on questions about health-related quality of life in government telephone surveys. The study is from Columbia University and the City College of New York. It appears in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. And another study has linked each hour of watching television daily to an eighteen percent increased risk of death from heart disease. The study of adults in Australia also found an increased risk of death from others causes. The findings are published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association. Lead author David Dunstan at the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Victoria says the body was designed to move. He says even if people have a healthy body weight, sitting for long periods of time still has an unhealthy influence on blood sugar and blood fats.

Words in This Story

diabetes – n. a disease in which the body cannot control the level of sugar in the blood

factor – n. a fact or situation that influences the result of something

blame – v. to say or think that someone or something did something wrong or is responsible for something bad happening

interfere – v. to involve yourself in a situation when your involvement is not wanted or is not helpful

pancreas – n. an organ in the body that produces insulin (= a chemical substance that controls the amount of sugar in the blood) and substances that help to digest food so that it can be used by the body

association – n. a group of people who work together in a single organization for a particular purpose

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