Passive smokers have a 20 per cent higher chance of becoming a diabetic, according to a new study / Getty

Researchers say figures 'further emphasise the importance of adoption and enforcement of smoke-free legislation'

Someone exposed to second-hand smoke has a 20 per cent higher chance of becoming a diabetic, according to a new study.

Researchers, who published their findings in the Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology journal on Friday, examined the findings of 88 previous studies that looked at the health of nearly six million people, The Guardian reported.

They found a non-smoker who breathed in smoke from someone else’s cigarette had a 22 per cent higher chance of getting type 2 diabetes than someone not exposed to second-hand smoke. A smoker had a 37 per cent higher chance, while a former smoker was 14 per cent more like to develop the disease.

The researchers said the figures “further emphasise the importance of adoption and enforcement of smoke-free legislation to reduce the number of people exposed to second-hand smoke”.

“Reduction of active smoking should automatically reduce the prevalence of second-hand smoke exposure,” they added.

The study said the results “suggest that smoking might be a causal risk factor” for type 2 diabetes, which increases the chance of having a stroke, a heart attack or going blind.

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of anti-smoking charity ASH, said: “We already know that smoking increases the risk of type 2 diabetes but it now appears that people exposed to second-hand smoke and former smokers are also at risk.

“We advise smokers with diabetes who want to stop smoking to use licensed nicotine products or electronic cigarettes which will deal with any cravings and will help them manage their diet to avoid putting on excess weight.”

Dr Richard Elliott, research communications manager at Diabetes UK, said: “We know that smoking and passive smoking are extremely harmful to health for many reasons and that a huge proportion of people who smoke die as a result of it.”

However he noted that the study had not actually demonstrated that smoking directly caused type 2 diabetes.

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