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Snuff Not a Safe Tobacco Option

Quitting Smoking? Researchers Advise Against Switching to Smokeless Tobacco
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Dec. 21, 2007 -- Planning to quit smoking? Smokeless tobacco isn't a safe alternative, says a University of Minnesota cancer expert.

"The results of our studies do not support the concept that smokers should switch to smokeless tobacco," writes Stephen Hecht, PhD. "Long-term use of nicotine replacement therapy may be a better option."

Hecht has been studying smokeless tobacco -- mainly as oral moist snuff -- for more than 20 years.

He notes that smokeless tobacco -- which can cause oral and pancreatic cancer -- contains carcinogens called nitrosamines in levels similar to nitrosamines in cigarettes.

Nitrosamine levels are about 1,000 times higher than in other consumer products, and products touting "low nitrosamine" claims don't eliminate the risk, according to Hecht.

Smokeless tobacco products bear a warning label about health risks. But sales of moist snuff have "continued to increase" in the U.S., notes Hecht.

Hecht's report appears in Chemical Research in Toxicology.

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