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Oral Cancer Risk Factor: Chew Tobacco

By Jill Hamilton on April 3, 2014 in Dental Health


ChewTobacco 4.3

Chewing tobacco and baseball went hand in hand in the late 1800s and early 1900s. However, after tobacco was proven to cause health issues in the 1960s, use among players declined.

Chewing tobacco's decline in popularity wasn’t without reason. Also known as dip, it can cause high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, mouth sores and other serious long-term health problems. It's also bad for your teeth and gums.

Even today, many people mistakenly believe that it's safer to use chewing tobacco than cigarettes. And although it is true that chewing tobacco doesn’t cause lung cancer, it can cause cancers of the lip, tongue, cheek and throat. Holding tobacco in your lip irritates your mouth tissues and can form white, pre-cancerous patches called leukoplakia .

Although the average age of most people diagnosed with oral cancer is 62, the American Cancer Society says young people can develop the disease, too.

Symptoms of oral cancer include:

• Sores on the inside of the mouth that don't heal
• Pain, numbness or tenderness in the mouth or lips
• A lump or small-eroded area in the mouth
• A prolonged sore throat
• Difficulty chewing
• Restricted movement of the tongue or jaws and/or a feeling of something lodged in the throat

If you're an adult who uses chewing tobacco, remember that there is no such thing as safe tobacco. So, as the Iowa Cubs take the field for opening day, let's say farewell to dip and hello to a winning season!