Dry snuff's oral cavity cancer risk

USE OF powdered, dry snuff carries a much higher relative risk of oral-cavity cancer than does the use of other smokeless tobacco products — moist snuff and chewing tobacco — according to University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) researchers. .

"No one had tried to separate out the relative risks of the different types of smokeless tobacco (SLT) products," said lead author Dr. Brad Rodu .

"Although dry snuff increases the risk of oral-cavity cancer, the other types of smokeless tobacco actually have a lower relative risk than we previously thought." Rodu and co-author Dr. Phil Cole are leading proponents of SLT as a way of reducing the harm of cigarettes to those people who have extreme difficulty, or who are unable, to quit smoking.

SLT use is a public health concern, say the authors, but the products increase the risk of oral-cavity cancer only minimally as compared to quitting smoking altogether. Their study was published in the scientific journal Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology.

The UAB researchers found that the relative risk of getting cancer by use of either moist snuff or chewing tobacco is 0.7. The risk rises to 4.0 with use of dry snuff. The authors decided to distinguish the relative risk of cancer from the different types of smokeless products because dry snuff is an SLT product.One drawback of most of the available studies, the authors said, was that they did not take into account participants' alcohol intake and cigarette smoking, the two main activities that are known to greatly enhance the risk of getting oral cancer.

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