New Research Adds to Concerns About Smokeless Tobacco
Approximately 8 million Americans use smokeless tobacco products, regardless of the increased risk of oral cancer and periodontal disease. Although many of these health risks are well understood, a new study investigated the microbial populations within these products. The researchers, which published their findings in September in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, detected pathogenic bacteria in smokeless tobacco products — including Bacillus licheniformis and Bacillus pumilus, which could lead to inflammation of the lungs and other infections.
In the paper, “Bacterial Populations Associated with Smokeless Tobacco Products,” the team notes that such bacteria may cause diarrhea and vomiting. These microbes also produce a toxin that, in large amounts, can cause health problems. Adding to these concerns, smokeless tobacco users hold such products in their mouth for extended periods, raising the risk of exposure.
With a better understanding of the potential microbial risks associated with smokeless tobacco use, researchers hope the data will assist the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s regulatory committee in its decisions concerning smokeless tobacco products.