‘Local snuff- smokeless tobacco causes cancer’
cerIT is usually taken through the nose or mouth but a new study found that adults who use only local snuff that is smokeless tobacco products have higher levels of biomarkers of exposure to nicotine and NKK – a cancer-causing toxicant – compared with those using only cigarettes.
Local snuff is called utaba in Ibo and taba in Yoruba, and it is mostly patronized by the elderly.
The study was published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.
Smokeless tobacco products expose users to nicotine and other harmful substances.
Use of smokeless tobacco products is attracting increasing attention from the public health community. Though smokeless tobacco use is less common than cigarettes, it is prevalent among certain population groups, particularly men and young people.
The National Adult Tobacco Survey estimates that 7.1 per cent of American men used chewing tobacco, snuff, dip, snus or dissolvable tobacco products in 2012-13.
This is a cause for concern because it has been found to have several adverse health effects and has been identified as a cause of cancer.
Smokeless products known to contain carcinogens
Previous small studies have found high levels of toxic constituents, including carcinogens, in smokeless tobacco users, but more analysis of nationally representative data has been needed.
Lead author Dr. Brian Rostron, an epidemiologist in the Center for Tobacco Products at the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and colleagues examined data for 23,684 adult participants in the National Health and Nutrition and Examination Survey (NHANES) – a large, nationally representative study of US health behaviors and outcomes from 1999-2012.
They recorded participant-reported cigarette and smokeless tobacco use and categorized individuals into four groups: 16,313 non-tobacco users, 488 exclusive smokeless tobacco users, 6,791 exclusive cigarette smokers and 92 dual cigarette and smokeless tobacco users.
They analyzed biomarkers of exposure to seven tobacco constituents, including nicotine and tobacco-specific nitrosamine.
High levels of cotinine and NKK exposure in smokeless product use
The level of cotinine, the biomarker of nicotine exposure, was higher in exclusive smokeless tobacco users compared with exclusive cigarette smokers. The biomarker of NNK exposure was also higher in exclusive smokeless tobacco users compared with exclusive cigarette smokers.
The analysis confirms that levels of biomarkers of exposure to nicotine and the cancer-causing tobacco constituent NNK are higher among exclusive smokeless tobacco users than exclusive cigarette smokers. This continues to put smokeless tobacco users at risk for adverse health effects, including cancer.