Smokeless Tobacco Products Pose Extra Health Risk to Users

Smokeless tobacco products carry bacteria that may lead to infection and illness as well as cancer

Smokeless Tobacco Products Pose Extra Health Risk to Users
Image: Pixabay
August 29, 2016

Most people know that tobacco products can cause cancer. Now researchers have found additional health risks associated with smokeless tobacco products such as chewing tobacco and dissolvable gums.

In addition to causing an increased cancer risk, these methods also carry bacteria that may cause infection and result in illness. Prolonged exposure to these bacteria, as with most other kinds, increases the user's risk.

"Some species have been identified as causative agents in spice-related outbreaks of diarrhea and vomiting. Additionally, they produce a mild toxin which, in large quantities could cause illness," said Steven Foley, coauthor of the study.

The researchers have identified several bacteria about which consumers should be concerned. Those from the bacillus species cause intestinal discomfort, but those from the staphylococcus species have more alarming results: these can turn the body's nitrates into nitrites, which can lead to formations that may be carcinogenic.

The method of consumption is part of the reason why these bacteria are so dangerous to people, says Consumer Affairs.

"Those using the products tend to hold them in their mouth for long periods of time so that the nicotine can enter the bloodstream," the news outlet reports. "This increases the amount of time that consumers are exposed to bacteria."

Using these products is particularly harmful for anyone with gingivitis or other oral health issues, a common occurrence amount users of smokeless tobacco. According to researchers, it is easy for some of the bacteria in such products to enter the user's bloodstream and cause dangerous infections in the heart valves.