Chewing tobacco is not safe tobacco
By The Tribune-Review
Published: Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012, 9:03 p.m.
Dear Drs. Donohue and Roach: I was washing the clothes of my 17-year-old son when I found a tin of chewing tobacco. Needless to say, I was upset. I confronted my son about it after school. He told me that a lot of his friends use it and that it is "no big deal - at least I'm not smoking!"
I told him it is a big deal because it is just as dangerous as cigarettes, and I reminded him of our family's history of cancer. My father, his two brothers and two of his sisters all died of cancer.
Can you please try to explain to my son the danger of chewing tobacco? Thank you.
Answer: As the parent of three teenagers, I empathize with your frustration. Trying to explain the increased risks of disease to someone who knows perfectly well what it means but doesn't really believe that it could ever happen to him is nearly impossible. But I will try, because there is a belief that smokeless tobacco is safe. It isn't.
The major risk of smokeless tobacco is in head and neck cancers - lip, mouth, tongue, throat. Having taken care of many of these patients, I can attest to the terrible pain and disfigurement that come from the disease and its treatment. But your best bet may be to talk about your son's family members who died from cancer. Discussing real people who have been through it might get through better than statistics about increased risks. A family member with esophageal or pancreatic cancer also would be important, since there is incontrovertible evidence that chewing tobacco causes these as well.
Is it safer than smoking? Yes. But playing Russian roulette with one bullet in the chamber is safer than playing Russian roulette with two.
Email medical questions to ToYourGoodHealth@med.cornell.edu.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pocusset Street in Greenfield is ‘shifted’ to bike zone
- Women finding more fitness success working together
- How to find a child therapist