Is Chewing Tobacco Better For You Than Smoking?


Most of us know smoking tobacco can cause
cancer, but what if you chew it instead? Spoiler alert: still terrible, don’t do
it, unless you just love infections. Hey smokin’ hotties, Jules here for Dnews. It used to be the case that if you were trying
to quit smoking cigarettes, some health advocates would recommend that you replace the habit
with smokeless tobacco, since it removes the whole cancer-y combustion part of the equation,
and supposedly causes less cancer. But there’s tons of evidence that it does,
in fact, cause cancer, and hey, a study came out this year that not only points to a cancer
risk from smokeless tobacco, but also the very real risk of a horrible bacterial infection. So those health advocates might want to rethink
their chosen careers. See, the big problem with smokeless tobacco
is how it is consumed. You’ve probably seen people using it; they’ll
often look like they have a big old lump in their cheek. That lump is tobacco, and users generally
hold it against their gum line for long periods of time, as the nicotine is absorbed. But you’re not really supposed to hold anything
in your mouth for that long and the tissues inside of your mouth, called mucous membranes,
aren’t as strong as they are on the outside of your body. The mucous membranes *figuratively* open the
door for all sorts of nasty cancerous chemicals and bacterial infections. But first it makes sense to understand the
problem with tobacco in general. Most of us know that smoking tobacco is one
of the biggest causes of lung cancer by far, and does so by altering your body’s DNA. A number of chemicals found in cigarettes
are specifically labelled as culprits in DNA damage, including benzene, polonium-210, benzo(a)pyrene,
and nitrosamines. And most of those show up before anything
is even burned, aka combusted. Combustion is a chemical reaction, and leaves
lots of little byproducts, a number of which are known carcinogens. Whether it’s burning meat on a grill, which
we recently did a video about, or lighting up a cigarette, combustion is generally known
to produce these carcinogens. But removing the smoke part only really addresses
a small part of the cancer-causing problem with tobacco. Smokeless tobacco, which can take on the form
of snuff, snus, dissolvable or chewable tobacco still contains stuff like nitrosamine, which
is considered one of the most reliable cancer causing agents in tobacco, and comes from
a chemical reaction nicotine undergoes when it oxidizes during drying, also called “curing”. In fact, smokeless tobacco is well known to
cause cancers of the mouth and throat. Even Babe Ruth died from cancer of the upper
throat, very likely due to chewing tobacco. No one is immune. And speaking of immune, smokeless tobacco
isn’t just a cancer risk. A paper published in the journal Applied and
Environmental Microbiology in August of 2016 showed a link between opportunistic infections
and smokeless tobacco. It says that there’s a type of bacteria
group called “Bacillus” that can live in smokeless tobacco and infect your mouth. A different study in Clinical and Diagnostic
Laboratory Immunology found five species of bacillus in chewing tobacco sold in the US
— so the bacteria is already there when you buy it. Some of these species are known to cause vomiting,
diarrhea, and even emit a toxin that can make you very sick. And even worse, other forms of this bacteria
can produce the exact kinds of nitrosamines we mentioned earlier that are known to cause
cancer. The problem is that smokeless tobacco is a
prime transporter for opportunistic infections, which describes an infection that generally
only happens when there is a prolonged opportunity. As we mentioned earlier, in order to get nicotine
into your body from your mouth without swallowing it, the piece of tobacco is held against your
mucous membranes in order to flow right through them. This creates the perfect opportunity for bacteria
to jump into your bloodstream right alongside the nicotine, and next thing you know, you’ve
got toxin-producing Bacillius running rampant. Look, it’s 2016 and the evidence is clear
as day: tobacco is generally bad news, and the more we learn about it, the worse it is. So do yourself a favor. Spit it out. So smoking can obviously give you cancer and
chew can give you cancer and infections, but those aren’t the only things to worry about. What about how smokers always look older than
their nonsmoking counterparts? Why is that? Find out in this video. And if you have any other smoking related
questions, let us know down below in the comments and don’t forget to like and subscribe for
more DNews everyday.