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Metabolism. 1996 Dec;45(12):1551-6.

Cigarette smoking is not associated with hyperinsulinemia: evidence against a causal relationship between smoking and insulin resistance.

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Department of Community Medicine, University of Cambridge, Addenbrooke's Hospital, UK.


Previous reports of a relationship between cigarette smoking and hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance provide an important possible mechanism by which smoking could be associated with the metabolic cardiovascular syndrome and hence with ischemic heart disease. However, few previous studies have been able to adjust for all the possible confounding factors related both to smoking and to insulin resistance. Therefore, we examined this association in a population-based cohort study of 1,122 individuals aged 40 to 65 years who underwent a 75-g oral glucose tolerance test with specific measurement of insulin, 32,33-split proinsulin, and intact proinsulin concentrations. Physical activity was quantified using the Paffenbarger questionnaire, and smoking status and alcohol consumption were determined using the Health and Lifestyle Survey questionnaire; 17.4% of the population were current smokers and 32.4% were ex-smokers. Current smoking was associated with reduced overall obesity as indicated by the body mass index (BMI) but an increase in central adiposity as measured by the waist to hip ratio (WHR). There were also significant associations between cigarette smoking and the pattern of alcohol intake and physical inactivity. In unadjusted analyses, current smoking was associated with lower fasting and 120-minute insulin and also 120-minute glucose compared with levels in nonsmokers. Adjustment for confounding by age and BMI reduced these differences, but they were increased by adjustment for central obesity. We conclude from this study that a causal relationship between cigarette smoking and insulin resistance is unlikely.

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