|What is the link
between tobacco and oral cancer?
Tobacco use is a known as a major risk factor for oral
and other cancers. All tobacco products, including
cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, chewing tobacco, and
snuff, contain toxins (poisonous substances), carcinogens
(cancer-causing agents), and nicotine (an addictive
substance). Each tobacco product is linked to an
increased risk for specific cancers:
||Cigarettes, the most common
form of tobacco used, causes 87 percent of all
lung cancer cases, according to the American Lung
Association. In addition, smokers are six times
more likely than nonsmokers to develop some form
of oral cancer in the oral cavity. Cigarettes
contain more than 43 cancer-causing agents.
|Cigars and pipes
||Cigars and pipes are often
perceived as the less harmful way to smoke
tobacco. However, even when not inhaling, cigar
and pipe smokers are at increased risk for cancer
of the oral cavity and lungs. Pipe smokers also
are at increased risk for lip cancers in areas
where the pipestem rests. In addition, cigars
take longer to burn and contain more tobacco than
cigarettes, increasing the amount of secondhand
Cigar smoking can lead to tooth
loss, jaw bone loss, and other periodontal
|Chewing tobacco and snuff
||Spit tobacco, also known as
chewing tobacco and snuff, are forms of tobacco
that are put between the cheek and gum. Chewing
tobacco can be in the form of leaf tobacco (which
is packaged in pouches), or plug tobacco (which
are packaged in "brick" form). Snuff is
a powdered form of tobacco, usually sold in cans.
The nicotine is released from the tobacco as the
Although chewing tobacco and snuff
are considered "smokeless" tobacco
products, harmful chemicals including nicotine
are ingested. Other chemicals in chewing tobacco
and snuff include:
- nuclear waste
(normally used to embalm corpses)
- car battery
- cyanide (a
type of poison)
and snuff can cause cancer in the cheek, gums,
and lips. Like a pipe, cancer often occurs where
the tobacco is held in the mouth. Cancer caused
by "smokeless" tobacco often begins as
leukoplakia (a condition characterized by a
whitish patch that develops inside the mouth or
throat) or erythroplakia (a condition
characterized by a red, raised patch that
develops inside the mouth) . Other problems
associated with chewing tobacco and snuff include
periodontal disease, tooth discoloration, and bad
breath, among others.
How do cigarettes and cigars compare?
Cigars became a trend in the 1990s, attracting the young
and the old. Although perceived as less detrimental to
ones health, cigars actually pose the same risk as
cigarettes for oral cancer. Although many cigar smokers
do not inhale, the risk for oral, throat, and esophageal
cancers is the same as for cigarette smokers. Consider
with nonsmokers, cigar smokers who inhale are 27
times more likely to develop oral cancer, 15
times more likely to develop esophageal cancer,
and 53 times more likely to develop laryngeal
smokers who inhale and smoke five cigars a day
run the same lung cancer risk as one-pack-a-day
smoke from cigars contain toxins and
cancer-causing agents (carcinogens) similar to
secondhand cigarette smoke, but in higher
Quitting tips for
persons who use tobacco products:
The American Academy of Otolaryngology and the American
Lung Association offer the following tips to persons who
use tobacco products and are trying to quit:
about why you want to quit.
a stress-free time to quit.
for support and encouragement from family,
friends, and colleagues.
doing some exercise or activity each day to
relieve stress and improve your health.
plenty of rest and eat a well-balanced diet.
a stop-smoking program, or other support group.