With the increase in laws that ban smoking in many public forums, tobacco companies have begun to market chewing tobacco and others forms of smokeless tobacco as an alternative. Some companies even have switched their marketing to suggest that smokeless tobacco is a terrific way to end smoking addiction, but this doesn’t entirely end risk for cancer, nor is it safe from a variety of perspectives. Tobacco is still a substance that can pose health risks, and there are many chewing tobacco effects of which people should be aware.
Initially, some of the less pleasant chewing tobacco effects can include its ability to stain teeth significantly, more so than does smoking. This is because holding a wad or plug of tobacco in the mouth allows for tobacco color to surround teeth for much longer periods of time than does having a cigarette. Like smoking, chewing tobacco will also impart bad breath to most of its users, and some people who use chewing tobacco the first time or two may have an upset stomach.
Damage to the mouth, teeth and gums are some chewing tobacco effects. Even before cancer is considered, regularly using tobacco can have some nasty effects on oral health. A few risks involved include wearing down teeth, receding of the gums, and tooth loss. Tobacco may accelerate various forms of gum disease, which can make tooth loss more likely.
Many people who regularly chew tobacco may notice one of the more dangerous chewing tobacco effects. This is the formation of white spots on the mouth and tongue called leukoplakia. In some instances leukoplakia is a pre-indicator of oral cancer. These spots are often present in areas of the mouth where people keep the wad of tobacco they’re chewing, and they are definitely a sign that it’s time to quit. Ultimately, leukoplakia can develop into cancer, though it can also be a benign sign. This chance is elevated when tobacco use is involved.
Even though side effects don’t include lung cancer, they do include risk of cancer in the mouth and throat. They may also raise risk for pancreatic and stomach cancer. Though people spit out most tobacco “juices” some do get swallowed, sending some of the more dangerous elements of the substance to the intestinal tract.
Another primary effect of chewing tobacco is addiction. Since tobacco in smokeless forms still contains nicotine, it is likely that regular use for just a few weeks will create physical dependence on nicotine. Use for a couple of months could make it very hard to give up chewing tobacco or using things like snuff. Given the overall health risks associated with use of this substance, it is far better to never start than it is to try to quit.