With all the attention given to other forms of cancer, many people may not realize how deadly oral cancer has become. Oral cancer claims the life of one American every hour and has a very low survival rate. A major cause of oral cancer is the use of smokeless tobacco or “chew” tobacco and anyone who thinks that it’s safer to use than smoking cigarettes is very misinformed.
Smokeless tobacco in sports
The use of smokeless tobacco has grown more prevalent and is common in baseball. A study discovered that 1/3 of Major Leagues baseball rookies regularly use chewing tobacco and snuff. The study also revealed that 30% of all level league players used smokeless tobacco and that once they develop the habit, were unsuccessful at quitting. The MLB has set rules regarding the use of smokeless tobacco but it’s just a first step to solve a bigger problem. Unfortunately, the use of smokeless tobacco among professional baseball players influences younger fans and athletes. Nearly 11% of high school males use smokeless tobacco, according to a 2012 study.
Use and dangers of smokeless tobacco
Those who use chewing tobacco or snuff do so by tucking the product in their cheek and spitting out the juices that form when mixed with saliva. Some users snort snuff through the nostrils. While most people know the health risks of smoking cigarettes, they may not understand the dangers of smokeless tobacco products. Smokeless tobacco products are just as dangerous as or more dangerous than cigarettes because they contain 28 carcinogens and can lead to oral cancer. Like cigarettes, smokeless tobacco contains nicotine, which is both physically and emotionally addictive. Symptoms of quitting smokeless tobacco resemble those of quitting cigarettes and include irritability, dizziness, headaches, depression and weight gain. However, enduring the symptoms of quitting is a far healthier option than continuing to use products that can cause life-threatening oral cancer. For more information about the dangers of tobacco regarding your oral health, read this.
Warning signs of oral cancer
Stopping the use of all tobacco products is an important step toward improving overall health, but it’s important that current or former users of smokeless tobacco know the warning signs of oral cancer. These warning signs include a sore or spot inside the mouth, lips or tongue that hasn’t healed by two weeks. Additional signs of oral cancer include difficulty swallowing, change in voice, persistent sore throat and hoarseness. If a person experiences any of these symptoms, they need to undergo immediate screening, as early treatment is essential for survival.
Using smokeless tobacco can lead to tooth loss, facial disfigurement and even death if oral cancer develops.