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Cancer-causing link in smokeless tobacco identified

Aug 24, 2012


Photo Source: eHow

Smokeless tobacco products have long been known to increase cancer risks, but for the first time a specific ingredient has been linked to an increased risk for oral cancer, at least in research using rodents.

Nitrosamine compound, or (S)-NNN, is found in products such as chewing tobacco and snuff, says the U.S. National Cancer Institute.  The study findings were presented Aug 22 at the American Chemical Society annual meeting in Philadelphia.

 “This is the first example of a strong oral-cavity carcinogen that’s in smokeless tobacco,” said study author Dr. Stephen Hecht , University of Minnesota, in a news release. “We now have the identity of the only known strong oral carcinogen in these products.”

(S)-NNN was found to prompt the onset of oral and esophageal tumors in labratory rats. Researchers are alarmed about the potentially elevated risk to humans of those cancers in addition to pancreatic cancer. An estimated 9 million Americans use smokeless tobacco.

“The most popular brands of smokeless tobacco that are sold in the U.S. have unacceptably high levels of this particular carcinogen,” Hecht said.  “Obviously we need to decrease the levels of this material in all smokeless tobacco products or eliminate it altogether.”

Some smokeless tobacco products have already reduced the level of the compound in their products. The carcinogen is found in other foods like bacon and beer, although in much lower amounts. They form naturally in the stomach of people who consume foods high in nitrates.

Researchers note that their data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

Source: HealthDay,WebMD

 

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