Smokeless Tobacco Effects on Health
While most people are aware of smoking’s harmful effects, smokeless tobacco can cause just as many health problems. In fact, many people start dipping after they’ve decided to quit smoking, but they are unaware of the negative consequences that stem from smokeless tobacco products. Smokeless tobacco effects are seen in the mouth, the stomach, the pancreas, and the reproductive organs.
Periodontal Diseases are typical of most smokeless tobacco users. Gum disease, tooth discoloration, bad breath, and tooth decay all arise from the sugar and tobacco sitting in the mouth for extended periods of time. Open sores frequently torment dip users, especially at the site where the plug is held. Leukoplakia, or painful mouth ulcers, are white patches in the mouth that can lead to even more deadly maladies.
Heart Disease is also related to tobacco use, in both smoked and smokeless forms. Dip causes increased heart rate and blood pressure, forcing the heart to work harder than normal. These smokeless tobacco effects can lead to heart failure, especially when the toxins add plaque to the arteries.
Cancer and Smokeless Tobacco Effects
Every hour, one person dies of oral cancer in the United States. While cavities can be filled and mouth sores will heal over, cancer isn’t as easy to get rid of. Some of the smokeless tobacco effects can be deadly.
Cancerous tumors can develop anywhere in the mouth. Smokeless tobacco users are 50% more likely to develop oral cancer than non-users. Doctors have found that dip users often develop cancer at the site of the tobacco plug. Since this is where most of the dip is absorbed, it shows a direct relationship between dip and cancer.
Other forms of cancer are also related to dipping, including esophageal cancer (cancer of the tube between the mouth and stomach) and stomach cancer. These forms of cancer are even more likely when users habitually swallow the dip. And pancreatic cancer is another of the many smokeless tobacco effects on your health. (The pancreas is a gland located behind the stomach that aids in digestion. Pancreatic cancer is almost always fatal, as spreads throughout the body rapidly.) And, like all cancers, once the cells start reproducing, it is extremely difficult to stop them.
Oral cancer is treated like other cancers—with surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation. The effects of these treatments are especially painful, as the mouth and throat are basically “burned” repeatedly to kill the cancer. Mouth cancer patients lose their sense of taste, can’t swallow, and find speaking painful. They have difficulty eating and drinking, making it almost impossible to nourish the body to undergo these painful treatments. Imagine doubling the nausea of chemotherapy with the exposed lining of your mouth! Any stomach acid that enters the throat or mouth is going to burn even more than normal. Mouth cancer hinders your life in very specific ways—no talking, no eating, and difficulty breathing—so quitting dip as soon as possible is the best way to avoid this painful demise.
Quitting smokeless tobacco is never fun, but it’s much better than the deadly alternatives. Tobacco-free chews are available from manufacturers such as Bacc Off® to aid in the cessation of smokeless tobacco. These herbal chews allow the user to experience the pleasing sensation of dipping and spitting without the more harmful effects of smokeless tobacco.