It’s baseball season, and the Boise Hawks and Idaho Falls Chukars are betting on a great summer. It’s time for some peanuts, Cracker Jacks and enjoying sunshine in the stands. Just don’t use chew tobacco. Even baseball players – well known for their fondness for sticking large clumps of smokeless tobacco between their teeth and gums – have now moved on to munching sunflower seeds.
Smokeless tobacco, also known as chew, puts people at risk for oral cancer, because the nicotine in it is absorbed through the tissues of the mouth. More than 9 million Americans use smokeless tobacco and its use is highest in people ages 18-25, according to the American Cancer Society.
Aside from being a nasty habit, chew puts people at risk for a variety of health problems, including:
- Mouth, tongue, cheek and gum cancers.
- Pancreatic, esophageal or stomach cancers.
- Nicotine addiction, which can lead to smoking.
- Increased risk for heart disease, heart attacks and strokes.
- Leukoplakia (white sores or patches in the mouth which could lead to cancer).
- Gum disease, bone loss around the teeth and tooth loss.
- Bad breath, cavities and tooth decay.
If you’re concerned about the health effects of using chew, visit your dentist or doctor if you have these symptoms:
- Trouble chewing or swallowing or difficulty moving your tongue or jaw.
- Sores that bleed easily or don’t go away over time.
- Unexplained lumps in your mouth or neck
It’s never too late to quit. Learn more about how tobacco use affects your health.