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Q: Is chewing tobacco as bad as smoking?
My grandfather and uncles all chew tobacco. They seem to think that it is safer than smoking cigarettes and that there isn’t risk of getting mouth or lung cancer from it. Is this true?
Abdul Haq

A: Dr Khalid says
Chewing tobacco is clearly harmful to a person’s health. Nicotine is found in chewing tobacco just as in cigarettes. It is the addictive substance which makes giving up the habit quite difficult. Because chewing tobacco is left in the mouth for long periods, a person may intake more nicotine than a smoker does.

This leafy tobacco which includes sugars, flavourings and scents also has hundreds of toxic chemicals which are extremely harmful to the body. Nicotine, polonium, cancer-causing carcinogens and formaldehyde are just some of the ingredients. The main health problems associated with chewing tobacco are cancers of the mouth, trachea and nose, heart disease, serious teeth and gum problems. Oral cancers are known to develop and spread quickly, and are hard to treat because of their location. You should inform your family members about the potential risks of their habit and advise them to try and stop. Help is at hand through support groups such as QUIT or Give Up Smoking.

If you have any medical questions for Dr Khalid please email him at drkhalidwyne@muslimhealthnetwork.org