Health Effects of Smokeless Tobacco
Smokeless tobacco is used all over the world. It is usually used orally either as chewing tobacco or as snuff. In 1985, 12 million persons in the United States used smokeless tobacco and the trend is increasing among young males. There is strong association between smokeless tobacco use and cancers of the oral cavity. There may be a fifty-fold increased risk of oral cancers among long term snuff dippers. Potent carcinogens including nitrosamines, aromatic hydrocarbons and radiation-emitting polonium are found in tobacco. Smokeless tobacco is associated with oral leukoplakia at the site of tobacco placement. Some leukoplakias undergo dysplastic changes and may become cancerous. Nicotine dependency is very similar to other drugs such as morphine. The effects of nicotine from smokeless tobacco are similar to those as seen in cigarette smoking and are not discussed in this review.
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