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New toxins in smokeless tobacco

18th August 2009

According to new US research, a pinch of smokeless tobacco or snuff contains a large amount of harmful substances, equivalent to five cigarettes.


The researchers made their conclusions on the basis of newly discovered cancer-causing substances found in snuff and smokeless tobacco, all of which which arise from the curing process.

Many smokeless tobacco and snuff brands contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), which are highly toxic.

Nevertheless, sales of such products have increased over the past 30 years, partly due to the fact that many smokers think they are less hazardous than cigarettes.

Irina Stepanov, PhD, of the University of Minnesota at Minneapolis said that her study shows that smokeless tobacco is not safe, placing snuff on the same list of major sources of exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons as smoking cigarettes.

PAH commonly form due to the partial burning of organic materials, such as wood and coal, and researchers formerly thought that users of smokeless tobaccos were not in danger from PAH.

Stepanov said that even though smokeless tobacco use does not involve burning, moist snuff is getting contaminated with PAH during its manufacturing.

She said that the curing process which turns tobacco leaves into snuff also adds PAH to the mixture.

The US National Cancer Institute says that smokeless tobacco and snuff contain 28 substances which cause cancer, and that since more nicotine per dose is absorbed by the body, they can also be more addictive.


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Article Information

Title: New toxins in smokeless tobacco
Author: Luisetta Mudie
Article Id: 12438
Date Added: 18th Aug 2009


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