[ExI] Is tobacco really harmful?

Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Tue Nov 24 07:52:58 UTC 2009

On Mon, Nov 23, 2009 at 03:24:05PM -0800, spike wrote:

> But to your point, grandpa did specify that they missed the lung cancer
> angle, picked up on the short windedness and the emphysema.


# What harmful chemicals are found in smokeless tobacco?


      Chewing tobacco and snuff contain 28 carcinogens (cancer–causing agents). The most harmful carcinogens in smokeless tobacco are the tobacco–specific nitrosamines (TSNAs). They are formed during the growing, curing, fermenting, and aging of tobacco. TSNAs have been detected in some smokeless tobacco products at levels many times higher than levels of other types of nitrosamines that are allowed in foods, such as bacon and beer.

      Other cancer–causing substances in smokeless tobacco include N–nitrosamino acids, volatile N–nitrosamines, benzo(a)pyrene, volatile aldehydes, formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, crotonaldehyde, hydrazine, arsenic, nickel, cadmium, benzopyrene, and polonium–210.

      All tobacco, including smokeless tobacco, contains nicotine, which is addictive. The amount of nicotine absorbed from smokeless tobacco is 3 to 4 times the amount delivered by a cigarette. Nicotine is absorbed more slowly from smokeless tobacco than from cigarettes, but more nicotine per dose is absorbed from smokeless tobacco than from cigarettes. Also, the nicotine stays in the bloodstream for a longer time.

# What cancers are caused by or associated with smokeless tobacco use?


      Smokeless tobacco users increase their risk for cancer of the oral cavity. Oral cancer can include cancer of the lip, tongue, cheeks, gums, and the floor and roof of the mouth.

      People who use oral snuff for a long time have a much greater risk for cancer of the cheek and gum than people who do not use smokeless tobacco.

      The possible increased risk for other types of cancer from smokeless tobacco is being studied.

# What are some of the other ways smokeless tobacco can harm users' health?

Some of the other effects of smokeless tobacco use include addiction to nicotine, oral leukoplakia (white mouth lesions that can become cancerous), gum disease, and gum recession (when the gum pulls away from the teeth). Possible increased risks for heart disease, diabetes, and reproductive problems are being studied. 

Eugen* Leitl <a href="http://leitl.org">leitl</a> http://leitl.org
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