Sunflower Hospital Nagpur | Dr Jay Deshmukh:- Chewing tobacco is the commonest cause for cancer of the oral cavity that includes the tongue, cheek, throat and oesophagus. It also causes tooth decay and infection of the gums It does not spare the heart either. Chewing tobacco results in more nicotine in the blood than smoking.
What are the health risks of chewing tobacco?
- A number of significant health risks are associated with the use of chewing tobacco. Users of snuff and chewing tobacco are at an increased risk for certain types of cancer, most notably cancer of the oral cavity including cancers of the cheek, gums, lips tongue and floor and roof of the mouth. Some studies have suggested a link between the use of chewing tobacco and the development of pancreatic cancer, oesophageal cancer and stomach cancer. In fact, the chances of getting cancer of any part of the gastrointestinal tract are increased multifold.
What are the other health risks?
- Those who chew tobacco have an increased risk of developing gum diseases and gum recession, whitish patches inside the mouth that can become cancerous known as leukoplakia, wearing down of teeth, staining of teeth, tooth decay and tooth loss.
What about cardiovascular risks?
- Some studies have shown a link between an increased risk of cardiovascular disease including heart attacks and strokes in users of snuff and chewing tobacco although these risks are not as great as those observed in smokers. Further research is necessary.
Is chewing tobacco safer than cigarette smoking?
- Sunflower Hospital Nagpur | Dr Jay Deshmukh:- Chewing tobacco is not a safe substitute for smoking tobacco. Chewing tobacco contains nicotine, which is highly addictive, as well as a number of known cancer-causing chemicals. Any form of tobacco use poses an increased risk of developing cancer, and no level is considered safe. While the risk of getting cancer from chewing tobacco is less than smoking tobacco the health risks of chewing tobacco are very real and potentially fatal. Chewing tobacco also has not been shown to be helpful for smokers who want to quit smoking.
What has been done to reduce the use of chewing tobacco?
- Sunflower Hospital Nagpur | Dr Jay Deshmukh:- Parents are encouraged by health caregivers, school authorities and public health officials to include the topic of chewing tobacco use when they discuss the hazards of any tobacco use with their children. It is better never to start than to try to stop the addictive tobacco habit in any form.
What treatments are available to help people quit using chewing tobacco?
- Sunflower Hospital Nagpur | Dr Jay Deshmukh:- Chewing tobacco is an addiction that can be overcome. As with cigarette smoking, various support systems, programs, and even prescription medications are available to help people quit using chewing tobacco. These include nicotine gums, nicotine patches and lozenges. Prescription medicines such as bupropion, varenicline have been effective in some patients that are trying to quit nicotine.
How many carcinogens are present in tobacco?
- Sunflower Hospital Nagpur | Dr Jay Deshmukh:- Tobacco contains 28 cancer-causing agents. Adolescents who chew tobacco are more likely to become smokers. The most harmful cancer-causing substances in tobacco are tobacco-specific nitrosamines.
Why does tobacco cause cancer?
- Sunflower Hospital Nagpur | Dr Jay Deshmukh:- Our bodies are designed to deal with some damage to our cells. But it is impossible for our body to deal with a number of harmful chemicals in tobacco. The carcinogens damage the DNA of our cells, the repair process may become unregulated and thus be responsible for cancer.
How dangerous is snuff?
- Snuff promotes mouth and nasal cancers and gum disease. It cannot be a substitute for smoking or chewing tobacco.
How to quit tobacco chewing habit?
- Determination to quit is the most important beginning. Support and encouragement from family and friends are essential. Spending time with children, family, meditation, counselling, exercises and sports activity helps. If a senior family member chews tobacco, the younger generation is bound to follow him.
What are the withdrawal symptoms if you stop chewing tobacco?
- Sunflower Hospital Nagpur | Dr Jay Deshmukh:- Dizziness, depression, feeling of frustration, impatience and anger, anxiety, irritability, trouble falling asleep and staying asleep and having bad dreams are a few. These can be easily managed by certain medications or changes in lifestyle.
Thousands of Indians die every year due to the ill effects of tobacco chewing. Quitting this habit as early as possible is important. Cancer of the throat, oesophagus and stomach are the most aggressive forms of cancer and tobacco is a predisposing cause in most. Quitting tobacco would be the most important gift you can give to your family on this Independence Day.
Author: Dr Jay Deshmukh
Dr Jay Deshmukh is Chief Physician and Director, Sunflower Hospital, Nagpur Honorary Physician to Honorable Governor of Maharashtra and PondicherryCentral. Dr Jay Deshmukh is an M.B.B.S., M.C.P.S., F.C.P.S., M.N.A.M.S., MD From Internal Medicine – Bombay and New Delhi.