Smokeless Tobacco and Cancer

Smokeless Tobacco and Cancer : Studies have found that snuff and chewing tobacco (smokeless tobacco) contains 28 cancer-causing agents. This increases the risk of oral cancer and possibly the risk of head and neck cancers. Presence of TSNAs (tobacco-specific nitrosamine) in smokeless tobacco increases the risk of cancer in the oral cavity and pharynx. Also, high nicotine content in smokeless tobacco (ST) causes more addiction than that caused due to cigarette smoking. This makes it more difficult to quit ST.

It is found that prolonged use of oral snuff increases the risk of cancer of the gum and cheek than those who do not use smokeless tobacco. Oral cancer can affect any part of the mouth or throat. This causes red or white lesions in the mouth, sore mouth that refuses to go away, oral bleeding, lump in the neck, etc.

Nearly 85 percent of head and neck cancers are associated with the use of tobacco – smokeless tobacco and smoking. Head and neck cancer includes cancer of the mouth, nose, throat, sinuses, lymph nodes and salivary glands. This type of cancer can make it difficult to swallow food, cause hoarseness of voice, persistent sore throat, etc.

According to a survey conducted in 1987 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) of Cancer Epidemiology and Control, it was found that nearly 6% of American men use smokeless tobacco. The same survey indicated that ST use among women was negligible 0.5%. It was also found that nearly 79.9 percent of adult American men thought tobacco snuff increase the risk of cancer whereas 83.8 % adult American men considered chewing tobacco increases cancer risk. Among those who chew tobacco leaves, 71.5 % knew the risk associated with it as compared to those who did not chew tobacco.