Snus Smokeless Tobacco May Raise Stroke Risk

Reports continue to emerge regarding the links between snuff—also known as <"">Snus—and increased stroke risks.  Reuters’ Medline Plus, citing the journal Epidemiology, released an article discussing the outcomes of a recent study that points to a link between the smokeless tobacco product and fatal stroke.

Snuff, also called Snus in Sweden, is a smokeless, moist tobacco that is taken by mouth and is, apparently, quite popular in Sweden, says Reuters.  According to Reuters, Dr. Maria-Pia Hergens, of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, and colleagues reviewed information derived from health check-ups of Swedish construction workers from 1978 and 1993.  Tthe workers completed questionnaires that included information on tobacco use. Of the men studied, 118,465 never smoked and had no history of stroke; these men were followed through 2003.

According to Reuters, Sweden’s Inpatient Register and Causes of Death Register “were used to identify subsequent illness and death from stroke.”  The study found that during the average 18 years of follow-up, 3,248 men suffered a stroke, with the vast majority—70 percent—suffering from “ischemic” strokes, those caused by restricted blood flow.  Another 17 percent suffered from “hemorrhagic” or bleeding strokes and 13 percent were “unspecified.”

Of the men studied, nearly 30 percent never used snuff and their “overall relative risk of stroke was not increased over ever users,” reported Reuters.  Meanwhile, the relative risk for fatal stroke was 27 percent higher among ever users over never users, mainly due to a 38 percent risk of fatal stroke among current snuff users, noted Reuters.  As a result of the findings, the team concluded that, “snuff use may elevate the risk of fatal stroke, and particularly of fatal ischemic stroke,” quoted Reuters.

Last week, we reported that R.J. Reynolds was preparing for the national debut of Camel Snus, a new type of smokeless chewing tobacco and that, according to a New York Times report, R.J. Reynolds is hoping Camel Snus catches on with consumers as a more “socially acceptable” form of tobacco.  Health officials are worried about the product’s potential to cause health problems.  Also, according to the Associated Press, the European Union banned Snus in 2004 over cancer worries.  Unlike regular chewing tobacco, users can swallow the juice Snus produces, so there is no spitting.  And unlike cigarettes, there is no second hand smoke.  Apparently, those properties are what R.J. Reynolds thinks will make Camel Snus, which is currently being test marketed nationwide, more “socially acceptable.”

The New York Times also reported that the amount of nicotine contained in a single-dose pouch of Camel Snus is higher than is what is found in most other chewing tobaccos.   A spokesperson for R.J. Reynolds told the Times that each pouch of Snus contains 8 milligrams of nicotine.  The New York Times also noted that there is concern that R.J. Reynolds is manipulating the nicotine in Snus and that an earlier version of the product that was test marketed in the U.S. which contained only 2 milligrams per pouch.  The West Virginia University researcher who made that discovery told the Times that the nicotine increase likely didn’t happen by accident.

According to an article published by, smokeless tobacco products contain 28 carcinogens and raise the risk of oral, pancreatic, and esophageal cancers, mouth lesions. and gum disease.

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