Quitting smoking is never easy. But a growing number of smoking cessation aids make it easier than ever for smokers to break their addiction to nicotine.
Research suggests that medications and nicotine replacement therapies can double and sometimes even triple the chances that a smoker will successfully quit. Some of these treatments also help to minimize weight gain while quitting -- an important plus for many smokers who want to kick the habit.
With a growing number of options available, doctors...
Even its critics admit that snus is less harmful than other forms of smokeless tobacco. And it is far less harmful than cigarette smoking.
So is snus a good thing?
It would be a good thing if everyone who smoked cigarettes or dipped snuff switched to snus instead. It would be a good thing if snus were a way station on the road to quitting all forms of tobacco. It would even be a good thing if kids who would have become smokers became snus users instead.
But despite all of that, mounting evidence suggests snus isn't a good thing -- and may be far worse than they appear.
Snus: Less Harmful, But Not Safe
Cigarettes are the world's most efficient nicotine delivery device. They are also the most deadly. Many of the most dangerous byproducts of cigarettes are created during the burning process.
Much of this risk comes from cancer-causing chemicals called nitrosamines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). And snuff products actually deliver more cancer-causing nitrosamines than cigarettes do.
But nitrosamine content is far lower in snus than in snuff, says Stephen S. Hecht, PhD, professor of cancer prevention at the University of Minnesota.
"Snus are made with a special process to help control nitrosamine levels," Hecht tells WebMD.
There's a catch, of course. Carcinogen levels in snus may be lower -- but they are not low.
"Nitrosamine levels in snus are still 100 times greater than levels of nitrosamines in foods like nitrite-preserved meats," Hecht says. "This is not a harmless product."
And there's evidence that these nitrosamines -- or something else in snus -- are causing cancer. In Sweden and Norway, where snus originated, snus users have a significantly higher risk of pancreatic cancer.