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Is it Safer to Chew Tobacco?

Smoke rising from a cigarette.
Chewing tobacco.
Article Details
  • Written By: Josie Myers
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 14 March 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Many people believe that chewing tobacco is safer than smoking tobacco, but that belief is absolutely false. Studies have shown that those who chew tobacco are subject to just as many, if not more negative effects than their smoking counterparts. Cancer and heart attacks are some of the most serious side effects of chewing.

Studies done in Minnesota showed that chewing tobacco is more carcinogenic than cigarettes. Specifically, the carcinogen 4-(methylnitrosamino)- 1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (NNK) was found in significantly higher quantities. This one carcinogen alone is known to cause lung, pancreatic, nasal, liver and oral cancer.

Chewing tobacco, sometimes called snuff, spit or smokeless tobacco, has been around for centuries. It comes in two basic forms: snuff and chew. Snuff is a very finely shredded tobacco that it tucked in the bottom lip area. Chew has a thicker shred and is tucked into the cheek. With both versions, nicotine is absorbed directly into the bloodstream through the walls of the oral cavity.

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Baseball players of the early 20th century were the most popular figures of their time to chew tobacco. They used it to produce the saliva necessary to make a "spit ball," a type of pitch that has since been banned from the major leagues. Later in the century, ballplayers would turn to bubble gum as the saliva producer while cigarettes overtook smokeless tobacco's popularity as a drug. Chew had a resurgence in the 1970s when the dangers of smoking were first brought to light and it was believed that chew was a safer alternative. It is from this time period that the myth of safety originated.

Cosmetically, someone who chooses to chew tobacco is subject to some serious issues. Cracked lips, receding gums, and white or red patches in the mouth and lips are common to see among those who chew tobacco heavily. The gum loss that is caused by chew can eventually cause teeth to fall out.

From a serious medical perspective, chewing tobacco can cause death just as smoking tobacco can. Whereas a smoker is more prone to lung cancer, a chewer is more prone to oral cancer. The tumors associated with oral cancer can form on the lips, gums, cheeks, upper or lower palate and the throat. Chew also has all of the negative effects associated with nicotine use such as increased heart rate, high blood pressure, and irregular heartbeats. All of these side effects give a chew user a greater risk of heart attack and stroke. Those who chew tobacco should seriously consider alternatives like mint snuff or chewing gum to help them quit before these conditions are exacerbated.

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Discuss this Article

anon55785
Post 1

Must have been written by someone who knows little about the area. Though smokeless or chewing tobacco is not 100 percent safe, it is dramatically safer than smoking.

Even though people like to associate chewing tobacco and oral cancer, the main cause of oral cancer is smoking, and then alcohol and then HPV.

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