Effect of cigarette smoking on insulin resistance risk

Ann Cardiol Angeiol (Paris). 2016 Feb;65(1):21-5. doi: 10.1016/j.ancard.2014.12.001. Epub 2015 Jan 16.


Objectives: Smoking is one of the main risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD). The mechanism(s) of the effects of smoking on CVD are not clearly understood; however, a number of atherogenic characteristics, such as insulin resistance have been reported. We aim to investigate the effects of cigarette smoking on insulin resistance and to determine the correlation between this parameter with smoking status characteristics.

Study design: This study was conducted on 138 non-smokers and 162 smokers aged respectively 35.6±16.0 and 38.5±21.9 years. All subjects are not diabetic.

Methods: Fasting glucose was determined by enzymatic methods and insulin by chemiluminescence method. Insulin resistance (IR) was estimated using the Homeostasis Model of Assessment equation: HOMA-IR=[fasting insulin (mU/L)×fasting glucose (mmol/L)]/22.5. IR was defined as the upper quartile of HOMA-IR. Values above 2.5 were taken as abnormal and reflect insulin resistance.

Results: Compared to non-smokers, smokers had significantly higher levels of fasting glucose, fasting insulin and HOMA-IR index. These associations remained significant after adjustment for confounding factors (age, gender, BMI and alcohol consumption). A statistically significant association was noted between the smoking status parameters, including both the number of cigarettes smoked/day and the duration of smoking, and fasting insulin levels as well for HOMA-IR index. Among smokers, we noted a positive correlation between HOMA-IR index and both plasma thiocyanates and urinary cotinine.

Conclusion: Our results show that smokers have a high risk to developing an insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia, compared with a matched group of non-smokers, and may help to explain the high risk of cardiovascular diseases in smokers.

Keywords: Cigarette smoking; Glucose; Glycémie; HOMA-IR; Insulin; Insulin resistance risk; Insulinémie; Risque d’insulino-résistance; Tabagisme.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Cotinine / urine
  • Fasting
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology*
  • Male
  • Smoking / physiopathology*
  • Thiocyanates / blood


  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin
  • Thiocyanates
  • Cotinine