Smokeless tobacco may seem less harmful than smoking. But the health problems caused by smokeless tobacco include increased heart rate, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, and mouth sores.
In reality, it can cause serious long-term health problems. Tobacco in any form contains cancer-causing chemicals called nitrosamines. Many other chemicals are found in tobacco:
Smokeless tobacco causes cancers of the mouth, esophagus, and pancreas. It also has been linked to diseases of the mouth. These include gum disease, tooth decay, and loss of bone.
But it is disfiguring because you may need to have teeth, palate, jaw, or tongue removed. If you use smokeless tobacco, or have in the past, you should be on the lookout for some of these early symptoms of oral cancer:
Pain is rarely an early symptom. For this reason, anyone who uses tobacco should have regular dental checkups.
Francesca Torriani, MD
Medical Director, Infection Prevention and Clinical Epidemiology
UC San Diego | School of Medicine | Health Sciences