Smoking, very fortunately, seems to be a thing of the past. It’s no longer cool to be seen sucking on a cancer- stick and most people will not hold back a complaint or dirty look when a smoker lights up in their general proximity. Unfortunately, something equally horrific is trending now, especially among teens and young adults. Apparently the tobacco companies are not about to ‘go gently into that good night’. Yes, they have found a new way to package and popularize their poison. By glamourizing the product in movies like Money Ball they have quickly manipulated the market and honed in on their target: that generation raised by reformed smokers.
This new FAD-smokeless tobacco is also known as chew, spitting tobacco, snus or snuff and its popularity is spreading like the flu. For those who don’t know, the moist pack tobacco, packaged or loose, is held in the mouth between cheek and gum while the saliva generated is spit, not swallowed. Like all tobacco products, nicotine is the active and addictive constituent in smokeless tobacco. Although the nicotine in smokeless tobacco is absorbed more slowly, users absorb 3 to 4 times more nicotine than do cigarette smokers, which means they are 3 to 4 times more likely to become nicotine dependant. The side effects and medical problems associated with nicotine dependence and smokeless tobacco range from disgusting to life threatening. Smokeless tobacco contains at least 28 chemicals known to cause cancer, including tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs), formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, arsenic, benzopyrene, nickel, and cadmium. Smokeless tobacco is a silent killer.
At best, smokeless tobacco users will suffer gum disease, recession and gingivitis that lead to tooth decay and loss. The yellow to rusty brown staining of teeth is often permanent. Add that to bad breath and the disgusting habit of spitting, smokeless tobacco absolutely diminishes a person’s attractiveness.
Unfortunately, ugly isn’t the worst thing chew users have to worry about. Although cardiovascular disease and stroke are not as prevalent for smokeless tobacco users than that of cigarette smokers, studies have proven significant risk. Nicotine is a naturally occurring alkaloid found in tobacco plants. Nicotine binds to receptors on the neuromuscular system, effecting skeletal, smooth and cardiac muscles. This physiological affect can result in chronic muscular dysfunctions such gastrointestinal problems that lead to decreased appetite, paralysis and muscle asphyxiation. Nicotine acts as a stimulant binding to nicotinic receptors at the postganglionic neurons and causes changes in heart rate and rhythm. According to the International Program on Chemical Safety, nicotine causes constriction of the peripheral blood vessels along with tachycardia, or a rapid heartbeat, as well as an increase in blood pressure. Nicotine can also cause cardiac arrhythmia, arterial fibrillation and cardiac standstill. Nicotine does not need to be inhaled to have these effects on the body.
According the American Cancer Society, smokeless tobacco users increase their risk for certain types of cancer by 50%. Oral cancer, effecting the cheek, gums, lips, tongue, floor and roof of the mouth is most common among smokeless tobacco users. Leukoplakia; the white patches on oral epithelial tissue, are the noted precursor to cancers in the mouth. Erythroplakia present shiny, smooth, and red to purple in color. They often become malignant and metastasize, spreading throughout the oral and nasal cavity as well as down the throat. Other symptoms of early stage mouth cancer include a sore that won’t heal, bleeding gums, loose teeth, pain or difficulty swallowing, slipping dentures, lumps in neck area, and chronic earaches.
Some studies have suggested a link between smokeless tobacco and deadly pancreatic cancer, also known as the silent killer. Most pancreatic cancers are difficult to diagnose. That is why diagnosis is often made late in the disease course, contributing to its high morbidity rate. Symptoms include weight loss, back pain, and jaundice. The only course of treatment is surgical removal of the pancreas and all surrounding malignant tissue. Chemotherapy after surgery can lower the chances of the cancer returning, however even stage I pancreatic cancer diagnosis has less than 20% chance of fiver year survival rate. Most pancreatic cancers are not discovered until stage IV, reducing the survival rate to 1.8 %.
As you can see, contrary to what many users believe, there is nothing safe about smokeless tobacco. It disfigures, destroys lives, and kills.
MedicineNet.com. (2013). Pancreatic Cancer and Oral Cancer. Retrieved July 12, 2013, from MedicineNet: http://www.medicinenet.com/oral_cancer/page4.htm and http://www.medicinenet.com/pancreatic_cancer/article.htm
Scarano, A. (2010, Sept 10). Effects of Nicoteine On The Muscles. Retrieved July 12, 2013, from LiveStrong.com: http://www.livestrong.com/article/239665-effects-of-nicotine-on-the-muscles/#ixzz2YqQMEZlH
Yahoo . (2013, July 12). Yahoo Image Search: Mouth Cancer. Retrieved July 12, 2013, from Yahoo Images: http://images.search.yahoo.com/images/view;_ylt=A0PDoTBmEuBR_FUAvnWJzbkF;_ylu=X3oDMTFyYWtsZXZkBHNlYwNzcgRzbGsDaW1nBG9pZAM2ZWMzMjU4MmNlYjk0ODNmNThkNmQ4ZmViOGU0YmFiYwRncG9zAzU0?back=http%3A%2F%2Fimages.search.yahoo.com%2Fsearch%2Fimages%3Fp%3Dsmokeless%2Bto