Smokeless Tobacco: 4 Ways it Could Harm Your Health

by Dr Antonio Howell, MD

in side effects

Dr. Howell

tobacco-snuff

Most of the deadly effects of cigarettes are attributed to the smoke they produce which is composed of highly toxic compounds that harm the body and the environment. That is why many people think that smokeless tobacco products are a safer alternative to cigarettes.

Unfortunately, it isn’t the case.

Smokeless tobacco is also called chewing tobacco or spitting tobacco. It comes in two types – the snuff and the chewing tobacco. Both of these are held in the mouth inside the cheek or between the cheek and gum. Years of research have shown that although they don’t produce smoke, these tobacco products could harm human health in different ways.

It can cause cancer.


Smokeless tobacco has been found to contain 28 cancer-causing chemicals. The main carcinogenic compounds in smokeless tobacco products are called tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs). They include the following: formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, arsenic, benzopyrene, nickel, and cadmium.

It has nicotine too.

Nicotine is probably the most popular chemical found in cigarettes, which unfortunately, is also present in smokeless tobacco. It is a potent substance that has been used as an insecticide. When absorbed, nicotine increases the flow of adrenaline which causes an increase in heart rate and blood pressure as well as increasing insulin. It could stay in the body for up to 48 hours. Although nicotine in smokeless tobacco is absorbed more slowly from smokeless tobacco than from cigarettes, 3 to 4 times more nicotine is absorbed from smokeless tobacco than from a cigarette. What’s more, it remains longer in the bloodstream. There’s no wonder why people who use smokeless tobacco also become addicted to it.

It poses other health risks.

People who use smokeless tobacco are not only at risk of cancer. They are also at a higher risk of developing other health problems like staining of teeth, abrasion or wearing down of teeth, tooth loss, and gum disease. Some studies have also shown an association between smokeless tobacco and cardiovascular disease, including stroke and heart attack, although more research is needed to establish a cause-and-effect relationship. There’s also evidence suggesting that smokeless tobacco increases the risk of with gingival recession and oral leukoplakia.


It could cause DNA damage.

A 2010 study by the American Chemical Society has found that smokeless tobacco affects the normal function of a key enzyme that is found in almost every part of the human body. Such enzyme is important in various biological roles, particularly in the production of cholesterol, vitamin D and hormones. Furthermore, smokeless tobacco has been found to damage the genetic material in the liver, kidney and lungs.

It is estimated that around 10 million Americans have used smokeless tobacco, and nearly 3 million of them are below 21 years old. Smokeless tobacco is never a safe alternative for cigarettes. It harms the body in the same way regular cigarettes do. That’s it – it could increase your risk of cancer, oral health problems, cardiovascular disease, DNA damage and so much more. So don’t think it could help you quit. The only way to free yourself from the lethal effects of smoking is to stop completely.



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