Tobacco snuff is a form of smokeless tobacco that is finely cut. Many people believe that it does not have the same health risks as tobacco that is smoked. However, tobacco snuff has many negative side effects that range from serious to life threatening. Harmful chemicals in tobacco snuff may lead to serious diseases, and the nicotine that is present often leads to addiction.
According to the National Cancer Institute, around 28 harmful chemicals known to increase the risks of cancer are present in tobacco snuff. The most harmful chemicals are known as nitrosamines. People who use tobacco snuff are at risk of developing oral cancer in the mouth, lip, tongue, cheeks, gums and floor and roof of the mouth. Tobacco snuff users are also known to develop stomach, pancreatic and esophageal cancer. One of the early symptoms of oral cancer is white patches in the mouth called leukoplakia. Although less common than leukoplakia, erythroplakia may also develop, which are red patches in the mouth.
The use of tobacco snuff can increase the risks of various heart diseases such as acute cardiac ischemia, angina pectoris and acute myocardial infarction. Cardiac ischemia is a disease that means your heart is not receiving enough oxygen to function properly. Angina pectoris is severe constricting pain in the chest, and acute myocardial infarction is permanent damage to the heart muscle. If you suffer from hypertension, using tobacco snuff can make it more severe because it constricts blood vessels. Tobacco snuff users that swallow tobacco juice may suffer from stomach ulcers once the nicotine settles in the stomach and causes irritation.
Prolonged use of tobacco snuff causes gums to recede, which means that the injured gums begin to pull away from the teeth. Receding gums can lead to bleeding of the gums and tooth loss. Tobacco snuff also stains the teeth when used over a long period of time. Oftentimes, teeth turn a brown or dark yellow colour that is not eliminated with the brushing of teeth. Abrasion of the teeth is also a side effect of using tobacco snuff. Teeth are worn down over time, making them thinner and weaker.
Tobacco snuff naturally contains nicotine, which is an addictive substance. Nicotine makes it more likely that a tobacco snuff user will develop a dependency. Smokeless tobacco is generally regarded as more addictive than cigarettes because it contains more nicotine. The dependency on nicotine causes physical withdrawal symptoms to occur in the body when trying to quit. Over time, tobacco snuff users build a tolerance for nicotine, which causes them to consume more nicotine to get the same effect as in the beginning of use.
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- National Cancer Institute: Smokeless Tobacco and Cancer
- National Cancer Institute: Smokeless Tobacco --- Health and Other Effects
- The Ohio State University Medical Center: Oral Cancer and Tobacco
- University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics; Smokeless Tobacco; 2007
- American Cancer Society: Smokeless Tobacco: Why Is It So Hard to Quit?