WebMD Health News
Louise Chang, MD
Aug. 10, 2007 -- Looking for a safe substitute for cigarettes? Smokeless
tobacco isn't the way to go, according to a new
The report shows that smokeless tobacco may be as bad -- or worse -- than
cigarettes, in terms of exposing users to certain cancer-causing chemicals.
"Our results raise serious questions about the strategy of using
smokeless tobacco as a substitute for cigarette smoking. Long-term nicotine
replacement therapy may be a better option," write the researchers, who
included the University of Minnesota's Steven Hecht, PhD.
"This study lends evidence to support the notion that oral use of
tobacco actually provides a more efficient means for delivering certain
carcinogens into the body through the bloodstream, although cigarette smoke
includes a host of carcinogenic products that aren't a major factor in
smokeless tobacco," Hecht says in a news release.
Data came from six studies that together included 420 smokers and 182
smokeless tobacco users, all of whom were trying to cut down on their tobacco
Hecht's team compared levels of certain cancer-causing chemicals detected in the participants' urine
Levels of those chemicals from the smokeless tobacco users were equal to or
higher than the levels from the cigarette smokers.
The researchers say that while "there is no doubt that the risk for lung
cancer is greater in smokers than in smokeless tobacco users," smokeless
tobacco isn't harmless and can cause oral cancer.
The report didn't include details about the participants' medical history.
The findings appear in the August edition of the journal Cancer
Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.
SOURCES: Hecht, S. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention,
August 2007; vol 16: pp 1567-1572. News release, American Association for
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