All forms of tobacco products, including smokeless or chewing tobacco are known to have multiple, long-term detrimental effects on one’s oral cavity, including altering a person’s appearance, damaging the success of dental implants, increasing the risk for cardiovascular disease, and contributing to oral cancer.
Smokeless tobacco is a form of tobacco that is not burned or smoked, but rather placed in the mouth and then either chewed or sucked on.
Research suggests that smokeless tobacco users are at an increased risk of getting cancers compared to tobacco smokers, because most cancers arise within the oral cavity itself, with the most common places being the tongue, the gingival or gums, floor of the mouth, lip, and salivary gland, in that order.
Here are several important facts to know about smokeless tobacco:
Smokeless tobacco examples
While there are several forms of smokeless tobacco, snus and chewing tobacco are two of the most common types.
Snus is a type of smokeless tobacco that is popular in Sweden and other parts of Scandinavia. It is made from ground tobacco and is often flavored with mint, fruit, or other additives. Snus is sold in small packets or pouches, which are placed between the lip and the gum. Unlike other forms of smokeless tobacco, snus is pasteurized and doesn’t require spitting of the tobacco juice or saliva.
Chewing tobacco is a type of smokeless tobacco that is common in the United States and other parts of the world. It is made from loose leaf tobacco and is often flavored with additives like licorice or cinnamon. It is mostly offered in the form of plugs or leaves that you put in your mouth and chew as you push it towards the inside of your cheek to release nicotine and the flavors. This tobacco contains a mixture of nicotine (tobacco), sugar, spices, slaked lime, and flavourings. It is very addictive, because more nicotine is absorbed in the bloodstream (also stays longer) compared to smoked tobacco. Chewing tobacco causes you to produce a lot of tobacco juice or saliva, hence its reference as spitting tobacco.
Both snus and chewing tobacco carry many of the same health risks as other forms of smokeless tobacco, including the risk of cancer, addiction, and gum disease. It is important to avoid all forms of smokeless tobacco to protect your oral and overall health.
10 facts about smokeless tobacco
Research shows that chewing tobacco contains over 28 cancer-causing chemicals (carcinogens), including the tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs), arsenic, acetaldehyde, formaldehyde, benzopyrene, cadmium, and nickel.
A. Effects of chewing smokeless tobacco
Chewing tobacco may release numerous chemicals and poisons that result in serious health problems, including:
1. It can cause oral cancer
Smokeless tobacco is a known carcinogen and has been linked to a variety of cancers, including oral cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, smokeless tobacco use increases the risk of oral cancer by nearly 50 times compared to non-users. The increased risk of cancer of the oral cavity, oesophagus, pancreas, pharynx, and stomach, as well as throat cancer, is because users have to swallow tobacco juice (saliva) regularly
2. It increases the risk of tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth loss
Because users have to hold it in one area of the mouth for extended periods, the tobacco and its juices can irritate the gums, causing them to recede and exposing the tooth roots. This can lead to tooth decay and eventually tooth loss.
3. It erodes your teeth
Smokeless tobacco also increases the amount of bacteria in the mouth and releases acids and sugars that harm tooth enamel, making you more likely to have tooth decay.
4. It can cause bad breath and tooth staining
Smokeless tobacco use can also cause bad breath and a persistent foul taste in the mouth. This can make social interactions unpleasant and can damage relationships.
5. It can cause other health problems
In addition to oral cancer, smokeless tobacco has been linked to other health problems, including heart disease, stroke, and pancreatic cancer. Using smokeless tobacco is associated with
- Leukoplakia – whitish patches in your mouth that may lead to cancer
- Increased absorption of cholesterol by the body, making you more prone to heart disease and strokes
- Health problems associated with gum disease, like dementia, typep-2 diabetes, premature birth, and respiratory or lung disease
6. It can cause nicotine addiction
Smokeless tobacco contains high levels of nicotine, which can lead to addiction. Nicotine is a highly addictive substance that can be difficult to quit.
B. Chewing tobacco effects on stomach
Chewing tobacco can have harmful effects on the stomach, as well as other parts of the body. Here are some ways that chewing tobacco can impact the stomach:
Chewing tobacco can irritate the lining of the stomach and increase the risk of developing ulcers. Ulcers are painful sores that can form in the stomach lining and cause symptoms like stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting.
8. Acid reflux
Chewing tobacco can increase the production of stomach acid, which can lead to acid reflux. Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid backs up into the esophagus, causing a burning sensation in the chest and throat.
9. Digestive problems
Chewing tobacco can also cause digestive problems, such as constipation and diarrhea. This is because tobacco use can interfere with the normal digestive process, leading to irregular bowel movements and other symptoms.
10. Stomach cancer
Chewing tobacco has been linked to an increased risk of stomach cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, people who use smokeless tobacco are more likely to develop stomach cancer than non-users.
Some people believe that smokeless tobacco is a safer alternative to smoking, but this is not the case. Smokeless tobacco use carries many of the same risks as smoking, including addiction, cancer, and other health problems.
To improve your oral health, you should try to stop chewing tobacco, as well as using any other kind of tobacco. If you currently use smokeless tobacco, it is never too late to quit. Talk to your healthcare provider or a tobacco cessation specialist for support and resources to help you quit.