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6 other ways that tobacco increases your risk of cancer

What is smokeless tobacco?

Smokeless (or spit) tobacco comes in 2 forms – chewing tobacco or snuff.

  • Chewing tobacco is a leafy tobacco sold in pouches.
  • Snuff is finely ground tobacco that is either moist or dry. Dry snuff is sniffed through the nose. Moist snuff is rolled in a pellet and placed in your mouth between your gums and cheek.

What are the risks?

Smokeless tobacco is highly addictive because it contains nicotine. It also contains more than 3,000 chemicals, including 28 that can cause cancer. Using smokeless tobacco can lead to:

  • oral cancer (lip, tongue and cheek, and floor and roof of the mouth)
  • esophageal cancer
  • pancreatic cancer

What are cigars?

Cigars and cigarillos (short, narrow cigars) are rolls of tobacco wrapped in tobacco leaf paper. They come in different sizes but often contain several times as much tobacco as cigarettes do.

What are the risks?

Smoking cigars increases your risk of:

  • oral cancer (mouth and throat)
  • laryngeal cancer
  • lung cancer
  • esophageal cancer
  • pancreatic cancer

And the second-hand smoke from cigars increases health risks to non-smokers too.

What are bidis?

Popular in Indian and other Southeast Asian cultures, bidis are small cigarette-like products that are usually flavoured.

What are the risks?

Studies have linked bidi smoking with an increased risk of developing oral and esophageal cancer. The flavouring doesn’t make them any less harmful.

What are kreteks?

Kreteks are clove-flavoured cigarettes.

What are the risks?

Kreteks have not been studied as much as regular cigarettes – but similar to cigarette smoking, kretek smoking has been shown to damage the lungs. The flavouring doesn’t make them any less harmful.

What are pipes?

A pipe is a narrow tube – made from wood, clay or other materials – with a bowl at one end to hold burning tobacco and a tube (or stem) at the other to inhale the smoke.

What are the risks?

Pipe tobacco contains many of the same chemicals as cigarette smoke. And like smoking cigarettes, it’s addictive. Pipe smokers are also at a higher risk for cancer of the lip if they suck on the pipe stem when not smoking. Smoking a pipe may also increase the risk of developing:

  • oral cancer
  • throat cancer
  • esophageal cancer
  • laryngeal cancer
  • lung cancer
  • colorectal cancer

What are hookahs?

In recent years, more people, especially younger people, have been using hookahs (also known as water pipes). In a hookah, tobacco is heated and the smoke is passed through water before it’s inhaled through a tube.

What are the risks?

Smoke from water pipes still contains cancer-causing substances. And users of water pipes usually inhale larger amounts of smoke than cigarette smokers do. Bottom line – smoking a water pipe can be addictive and may increase your risk of cancer.


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