Smokeless Tobacco: Health Effects
Smokeless tobacco is associated with many health problems.
Using smokeless tobacco:
- Can lead to nicotine addiction
- Causes cancer of the mouth, esophagus (the passage that connects the throat to the stomach), and pancreas (a gland that helps with digestion and maintaining proper blood sugar levels)
- Is associated with diseases of the mouth
- Can increase risks for early delivery and stillbirth when used during pregnancy
- Can cause nicotine poisoning in children
- May increase the risk for death from heart disease and stroke
Using smokeless products can cause serious health problems.
Protect your health; don’t start. If you do use them, quit.
Addiction to Smokeless Tobacco
- Smokeless tobacco contains nicotine, which is highly addictive.
- Because young people who use smokeless tobacco can become addicted to nicotine, they may be more likely to also become cigarette smokers.
Smokeless Tobacco and Cancer
- Many smokeless tobacco products contain cancer-causing chemicals.
- The most harmful chemicals are tobacco-specific nitrosamines, which form during the growing, curing, fermenting, and aging of tobacco. The amount of these chemicals varies by product.
- The higher the levels of these chemicals, the greater the risk for cancer.
- Other chemicals found in tobacco can also cause cancer. These include:
- A radioactive element (polonium-210) found in tobacco fertilizer
- Chemicals formed when tobacco is cured with heat (polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons—also known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons)
- Harmful metals (arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, lead, nickel, mercury)
- Smokeless tobacco causes cancer of the mouth, esophagus, and pancreas.
Smokeless tobacco, like chew and dip, can cause cancer of the mouth, esophagus, and pancreas.
Smokeless Tobacco and Oral Disease
- Smokeless tobacco can cause white or gray patches inside the mouth (leukoplakia) that can lead to cancer.
- Smokeless tobacco can cause gum disease, tooth decay, and tooth loss.
Reproductive and Developmental Risks
- Using smokeless tobacco during pregnancy can increase the risk for early delivery and stillbirth.
- Nicotine in smokeless tobacco products that are used during pregnancy can affect how a baby’s brain develops before birth.
- Using smokeless tobacco increases the risk for death from heart disease and stroke.
- Smokeless tobacco can cause nicotine poisoning in children.
- Additional research is needed to examine long-term effects of newer smokeless tobacco products, such as dissolvables and U.S. snus.