August 1, 2005
Chew and Your Heart
People who use spit tobacco have heard of the possibility of cancer of the mouth, tongue and throat. But most don't realize the strain they put on their heart.
A 1994 study of more than 100,000 construction workers showed smokeless tobacco users had up to twice the risk for heart attacks as non-tobacco users. A recent study by the Mayo clinic revealed why. A group of young, healthy spit tobacco users were tested immediately after dipping. Researchers were surprised to find that:
Ø Heart rate increased by 15 beats per minute.
Ø Systolic blood pressure increased by 10%.
Ø Measurements of plasma epinephrine (adrenaline) were increased more than 50%!
Ø The body's protective response to blood pressure elevation was blunted.
The lead researcher remarked, "Although we did anticipate some increase in blood pressure, we were surprised by the magnitude." Because the spit tobacco users were young, healthy and used to the effects of tobacco, researchers thought the effects would be reduced by the body's protective mechanisms.
What does it mean? Since spit tobacco not only raises blood pressure but also attacks the body's normal defense to blood pressure increases, spit tobacco use increases the risk of heart disease.
Quitting chew is hard, but you can do it.
For Help Call
California Tobacco Chewer's Helpline
Source: Mayo Clinic press release, March 14, 2005