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Does snuff cause cancer?

July 29, 2009 |  7:00 am

Smokeless Most health officials discourage the use of smokeless tobacco products because of their potential health risks. But an analysis published today in the open access journal BMC Medicine claims smokeless tobacco products don't appear to increase cancer risk.

Researchers in the United Kingdom looked at 89 studies from the United States and Scandinavia. After adjusting for smoking, they said they could find no link between snuff and the risk of cancer.

"It is clear that any effect of smokeless tobacco on risk of cancer, if it exists at all, is quantitatively very much smaller than the known effects of smoking," said a co-author of the study, Peter Lee, in a news release.

The study was written by researchers at PN Lee Statistics and Computing Ltd., an independent consultation research firm that works for a number of tobacco, pharmaceutical and chemical companies.

Fourteen of the studies examined the risk of oral cancer and smokeless tobacco. But that analysis also failed to show a relationship.

Some people consider smokeless tobacco products a healthier alternative to smoking. But most U.S. health officials discourage that approach. Information released from the National Cancer Institute states that smokeless tobacco products contain 28 different carcinogens, are linked to an increased risk of oral cancers and may be associated with other forms of cancer.


-- Shari Roan

Photo credit: Jim R. Bounds  /  Bloomberg News

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