Dangerous Chemicals in Smokeless Tobacco

Although smokeless tobacco users have long believed that snuff and chewing tobacco are safer than smoking cigarettes, a recent study has revealed some disturbing findings regarding the alternative tobacco products.

According to Science Daily, although smokeless tobacco products do not burn, thus not producing inhalable smoke, just one pinch exposes the user to the same amount of a group of <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/toxic_substances">dangerous chemicals as the smoke from five cigarettes. One pinch is the equivalent of one portion.

The study looked at health concerns beyond what is already known about nitrosamines and nicotine, said Science Daily, and researched polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) in smokeless tobacco. The findings were reported at the 238th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

According to scientists involved in the research, the study’s findings add to existing scientific knowledge that smokeless tobacco products contain two-dozen other carcinogens that cause cancers of the mouth and pancreas, reported Science Daily.

“This study once again clearly shows us that smokeless tobacco is not safe,” said Irina Stepanov, Ph.D., who led the research team and is a chemist with Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, quoted Science Daily. “Our finding places snuff on the same list of major sources of exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons as smoking cigarettes,” Stepanov added.

Science Daily explained that PAHs are common environmental contaminants created during incomplete burning of wood, coal, fat in meat, and organic matter. For instance, PAHs form, when meats are grilled. “The feeling of safety among some smokeless users is wrong,” said Stepanov. “A total of 28 carcinogens were identified in smokeless tobacco even before our study. Continued exposure to these over a period of time can lead to cancer. Now we have found even more carcinogens in snuff,” reported Science Daily.

The study also found that not only does smokeless tobacco increase the risk of cancer, it can lead to nicotine addiction. Of note, given the rise in smokeless tobacco use and related advertising, said Science Daily, which noted that, according to some estimates, moist snuff use has doubled since the 1980s.

It seems, said Stepanov, that the prevailing belief among experts was that PAH only existed in trace amounts in snuff because burning was not involved; however that belief has now proved incorrect. “Even though smokeless tobacco use does not involve burning, moist snuff is getting contaminated with PAH during its manufacturing,” said Stepanov, referring to the fire curing that turns tobacco leaves into snuff. The process involves smoke from smoldering hardwoods—a “rich course of” PAHs—being in contact with curing tobacco, reported Science Daily.

According to a prior Science Daily report speaking of cigarettes, tobacco use the number one cause of preventable death worldwide. Also, in April we wrote that nicotine-containing tobacco replacement products might be linked to mouth and throat cancers, citing a then-emerging study.

The Scotsman previously reported that nicotine chewing gums and lozenges, meant to help consumers quit smoking via nicotine doses, might also be creating the potential for these cancers.

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