ACS ChemistryWhile most studies link smoking tobacco to adverse effects on health, smokeless tobacco too it appears could be as dangerous. Seemingly it not only affects the mouth but also the normal function of a key family of enzymes found in every part of the body. The enzymes are known to play significant roles in production of hormones. They include the sex hormones estrogen and testosterone as well as cholesterol and vitamin D production.

These enzymes are also reported to help the body breakdown prescription drugs and potentially toxic substances. Besides, the experts reveal that smokeless tobacco may also play havoc with the genetic material in the liver, kidney and lungs.

Krishan Khanduja and colleagues observed that smokeless tobacco has undesirable effects on the mouth which include an increased risk of gum disease and oral cancer. Blood that travels throughout the body absorbs potential carcinogens, other chemicals in chewing tobacco and other smokeless products. Limited information is however available on the effect of smokeless tobacco on other parts of the body. Scientists examined changes in enzymes and genetic material in laboratory rats in order to understand these effects using extracts of smokeless tobacco.

The report mentions that “These products are used around the world but are most common in Northern Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Mediterranean region”. “Most of the users seem to be unaware of the harmful health effects and, therefore, use smokeless tobacco to ‘treat’ toothaches, headaches, and stomachaches. This false impression only promotes tobacco use among youth. The use of smokeless tobacco and its new products is increasing not only among men but also among children, teenagers, women, and immigrants of South Asian origin and medical and dental students.”

Experts further identified that apart from damaging the genetic material DNA, extracts of smokeless tobacco also modify the utility of the CYP-450 family of enzymes.

This study is according to the first report on the topic in ACS’ monthly journal Chemical Research in Toxicology.