Chewing on Cancer

Chewing tobacco or dipping tobacco is becoming very popular among high school students. Packing a can and throwing in a lip seems to be cool but little do teenagers know, it comes with many risks. Providing a large amount of nicotine, dipping tobacco can become very addictive. It’s not unusual to spot a young man with a can in his back pocket of Grizzly, Copenhagen, or Skoal (Some of the leading brands). Whether one uses chewing tobacco or other types of smokeless tobacco because it’s enjoyable or because one thinks smokeless is safer than cigarettes, be forewarned, chewing tobacco can cause serious health problems.

Risk of certain types of cancer can increase if one uses chewing tobacco or any other types of smokeless tobacco. This includes various types of oral cancer and esophageal cancer, including cancers of one’s mouth, throat, cheek, gums, lips and tongue. One can also face increased risks related to pancreatic cancer and kidney cancer. Cancer is a scary word, many kids believe that it won’t happen to them but the chance increases every time you put it in your cheek. 

Chewing tobacco and other forms of tobacco will cause tooth decay. That’s because chewing tobacco contains high amounts of sugar, which leads to cavities. Chewing tobacco also contains particles that can irritate the gums and scratch away at the tissue on ones teeth, making teeth more vulnerable to cavities. One might think that simply brushing the teeth is the solution but that won’t protect him/her. 

Because smokeless tobacco contains nicotine, one can get addicted, just as with cigarettes and other tobacco products. The body may actually absorb as much nicotine from chewing tobacco or snuff as it does from cigarettes. Just as with smoking, withdrawal from smokeless tobacco causes signs and symptoms such as intense cravings, increased appetite, irritability and depressed mood. Once a person starts it can be incredibly hard to stop. 

As many as 20% of high school boys and 2% of high school girls use smokeless tobacco, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Of the 12 to 14 million American users, one third are under age 21, and more than half of those developed the habit before they were 13. It might be hard to pass up, but it is worth it. 

The Crusader Raid, Vol. 6, Num. 4.
The Spring/Summer Issue
May 2014

Written by Slater Schrimpf


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