Using smokeless products can cause serious health problems. Protect your health; don’t start. If you do use them, quit. Smokeless tobacco contains nicotine, which is highly addictive. Because young people who use smokeless tobacco can become addicted to nicotine, they may be more likely to also become cigarette smokers.
Many smokeless tobacco products contain cancer-causing chemicals. The most harmful chemicals are tobacco-specific nitrosamines, which form during the growing, curing, fermenting, and aging of tobacco. The amount of these chemicals varies by product. The higher the levels of these chemicals, the greater the risk for cancer. Other chemicals found in tobacco can also cause cancer. These include: A radioactive element (polonium-210) found in tobacco fertilizer; Chemicals formed when tobacco is cured with heat (polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons — also known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; and Harmful metals (arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, lead, nickel, mercury).
Smokeless tobacco causes oral disease. It causes cancer of the mouth, esophagus, and pancreas. It also causes white or gray patches inside the mouth (leukoplakia) that can lead to cancer. Smokeless tobacco can also cause gum disease, tooth decay, and tooth loss.
Smokeless tobacco also causes reproductive and developmental risks. Using smokeless tobacco during pregnancy can increase the risk for early delivery and stillbirth. Nicotine in smokeless tobacco products that are used during pregnancy can affect how a baby’s brain develops before birth.
And there are other risks such as: Using smokeless tobacco increases the risk for death from heart disease and stroke. Smokeless tobacco can cause nicotine poisoning in children. Additional research is needed to examine long-term effects of newer smokeless tobacco products, such as dissolvables and U.S. snus.
Meigs County Health Dept. has a certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist on staff. Call me at 740-992-6626, Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. to schedule an appointment.
Sherry Hayman, RN, TTS, is a public health nurse at the Meigs County Health Department