August 17, 2009

More chemicals found in smokeless tobacco

Snuff and chewing tobacco are not safer because they don't burn and produce inhalable smoke like cigarettes, U.S. researchers said.

Study leader Irina Stepanov, a chemist with Masonic Cancer Center at University of Minnesota, said the study adds to existing evidence smokeless tobacco contains two dozen other carcinogens that cause oral and pancreatic cancers.

This study once again clearly shows us that smokeless tobacco is not safe, Stepanov said in a statement. Our finding places snuff on the same list of major sources of exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons -- formed as a result of incomplete burning of wood, coal, fat in meat while grilling and organic matter.

Stepanov said, until recently, scientists said only trace amounts of PAH existed in snuff because the tobacco was not burned when used. However, this assumption proved to be wrong, she said

Even though smokeless tobacco use does not involve burning, moist snuff is getting contaminated with PAH during its manufacturing, Stepanov added.

The most likely source of this contamination is the curing process that is used to turn tobacco leaves into snuff, Stepanov said

The findings were presented at the 238th national meeting of the American Chemical Society in Washington.