Understanding the health risks associated with smoking is probably more well-known than using smokeless tobacco products. While you may think you are utilizing a healthy alternative by switching from smoking to smokeless tobacco, several possible health risks should still be considered.
Changes in Oral Cavity Tissues
Using smokeless tobacco products can change specific areas in your mouth where the product is held. Often, the area can appear gray, wrinkled and whitish, which differs from the healthy, pink tissue surrounding the area. Known as leukoplakia, these negatively affected areas of oral cavity tissues can lead to cancer. Changes to the area can be directly affected by specific factors associated with the type of smokeless tobacco used. Other factors affecting the oral cavity tissues in your mouth can include the following:
- Brand of smokeless tobacco
- Size of the pinch
- Length of time the product is in the area
Prolonged use of smokeless tobacco can also result in tooth decay, tooth loss, and gum disease.
Addiction to Nicotine
Using smokeless tobacco products can also lead to addiction due to the nicotine being introduced to your body. Nicotine is a highly addictive substance that can lead to prolonged use of these products, even if you want to stop. Once you start, nicotine will directly affect your brain and cause you to want more of it.
The CDC indicates the use of smokeless tobacco products is much higher in males versus females. Regardless, you may want to reconsider using smokeless tobacco due to its reproductive risks if you’re a female. Using these products when pregnant can increase the risk of having an early delivery or a stillbirth. In addition, the nicotine present in smokeless tobacco products can affect how your baby’s brain develops during pregnancy.
Other Risks Associated With Using Smokeless Tobacco Products
Introducing smokeless tobacco products into your lifestyle can also pose other risks. Studies have indicated a higher risk of dying from a stroke or heart disease when using smokeless tobacco.
Nicotine poisoning in children has also been associated with the use of smokeless tobacco products. Using smokeless tobacco has also been shown to cause cancer of the pancreas, esophagus, and mouth. Understanding how smokeless tobacco affects your body can assist you in making a more informed decision about its use. If you have any additional questions, reach out to us at WFMC Health. We offer both telehealth services and in-office appointments.