Experts found that smokeless tobacco products (STPs), such as snuff and chew tobacco, can increase the user's risk of cancer, just not as much as smoking does.
Side effects of chewing tobacco and snuff are stained teeth, bad breath, sores on the gums and in the mouth that are stubborn to heal and other dental problems. After prolonged use there is a risk of developing oral cancer which may become apparent through a sore that does not heal, a white patch, prolonged sore throat, difficulty chewing, or a feeling there is a lump in the throat.
In order to make sure of these findings, researchers examined smokers who use STP and their risk of cancer. A team led by Dr. Paolo Boffeta, of the International Agency for Research on Cancer, in France, noted that STPs contain more than 30 carcinogens, including nitrosamines and metals.
Their analysis of studies from around the world found that STP users had an overall 80 percent increased risk of oral cancer and a 60 percent increased risk of esophageal cancer. They also had a similar increase in the risk of pancreatic cancer. European studies suggest no increased risk of lung cancer among STP users, but American studies suggest an 80 percent increased risk of lung cancer.
Cancer rates associated with STPs vary between countries. For example, more than 50 percent of oral cancers in India and Sudan are attributable to STPs, compared with 4 percent in the U.S.
Health researchers did not recommend smokeless tobacco as a substitute for smoking. Experts advise smokers to stop chewing tobacco for to reduce the side effects and health risks associated with it, because chewing or smokeless tobacco contains nicotine, a very addictive substance.
The nicotine gets into the bloodstream through absorption in the mouth and is slower acting than getting nicotine from smoking cigarettes. The most serious health risk associated with the smokeless habit is cancer.