Using smokeless tobacco is associated with an increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer , researchers report.
Dr. Paolo Boffetta from the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France, and colleagues analyzed data from more than 10,000 Norwegian men to estimate the risk of cancer from the use of smokeless tobacco products.
The risk of pancreatic cancer was 67 percent higher among men who ever used smokeless tobacco than among men who never used smokeless tobacco, the authors report.
The increased risk was limited to men who were also current smokers.
Small increases in the risk of cancers of the mouth, pharynx, esophagus, and stomach were also seen in men who ever used smokeless tobacco, the investigators found.
In contrast, the use of smokeless tobacco was not tied to lung, kidney, or bladder cancer, according to the team’s report in the International Journal of Cancer.
Overall, smokeless tobacco doesn’t seem any safer than the smoking kind. As the researchers say, “Our study does not offer arguments in favor of the use of smokeless tobacco products to reduce the burden of tobacco-related cancer incidence or mortality.”
Furthermore, they write, “It provides evidence of a carcinogenic effect on the pancreas, which should be taken into account in the assessment of the health effects of this group of products.”
Boffetta said that his group couldn’t determine from the data if the risk of pancreatic cancer risk increased in step with the amount of smokeless tobacco used.
SOURCE: International Journal of Cancer, May 10, 2005.
Revision date: July 9, 2011
Last revised: by Sebastian Scheller, MD, ScD