Swedish snus much safer than smoking but linked to pancreatic cancer

Swedish "snus"- an oral, smoke free tobacco has proven much less harmful to health than conventional smoking tobacco. Snus causes no increased risk for lung or mouth cancer for never-smokers and could produce a net health benefit to the population if smokers switched to using it. But users of Snus are twice as likely to contract pancreatic cancer than never-smokers. The findings are revealed in two Articles published early Online and in an upcoming edition of the Lancet.

In the first Article, Dr Coral Gartner, School of Population Health, University of Queensland, Australia and colleagues assessed the potential population health effects of snus in Australia to estimate the difference in life expectancy between never-smokers and those with varying scales of tobacco use, including switching from tobacco to snus.

They found little difference in health adjusted life expectancy between smokers who quit all tobacco and smokers who switch to snus.

The authors conclude: "Current smokers who switch to snus rather than continuing to smoke can realise substantial health gains. Snus could produce a net benefit to health at the population level if it is adopted in sufficient numbers by inveterate smokers.

"Relaxing current restrictions on the sale of snus is more likely to produce a net benefit than harm, with the size of the benefit dependent on how many inveterate smokers switch to snus."

In the second Article, Dr Olof Nyrn, Clinical Epidemiology Unit, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden and colleagues studied around 280,000 Swedish construction workers tobacco consumption habits from 1978 to 1992, and then followed them up until 2004.

They found no increased risk of lung or oral cancer in snus users compared to never-smokers, but did find that snus users were around twice as likely to contract pancreatic cancer than never-smokers. But smokers were still more likely to contract pancreatic cancer than snus


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