Ohio State U. researchers heated up over smokeless tobacco
COLUMBUS, Ohio, Jan 22, 2002 (The Lantern, U-WIRE via COMTEX) -- Ohio State University researchers are fired up over their study on the uses of smokeless tobacco in Ohio.
The National Institutes of Health awarded Mary Ellen Wewers, professor of nursing, and her colleagues a $1.3 billion grant to complete the research. The study will take place over the next three years and is expected to be completed in June 2004.
Researchers will compare oral health in smokeless tobacco users and nonusers and test a cessation program for quitting smokeless tobacco use, Wewers said.
"Nicotine dependence is present in smokeless tobacco users, as in cigarette users," she said. "The effects of nicotine occur more slowly and last longer in smokeless tobacco users."
Wewers and her colleagues will test assisted methods of tobacco cessation, including the use of pharmacotherapy, such as nicotine patches, and behavioral counseling.
"Success rates for quitting tobacco, in general, are around 20 to 30 percent with treatment," Wewers said.
In the United States the prevalence of smokeless tobacco has been increasing since the 1970s.
Between 1985 and 1995 there was more than a $1 billion increase in sales of smokeless tobacco, according to the 1997 Smokeless Tobacco Report by the Federal Trade Commission.
The increase in sales of smokeless tobacco is associated with the sale of moist snuff. According to the FTC, moist snuff accounted for 76.1 percent of total smokeless tobacco sales in 1995.
Smokeless tobacco users are typically white males between the ages of 18 and 35; however, 50 percent of users begin by age 12. Smokeless tobacco users are primarily young men from rural areas in Southern and Midwestern states, Wewers said.
"Tobacco-related illnesses present a significant health-related and economic burden for the United States, as well as the international community," Wewers said. "In the U.S. alone, heath-related costs of tobacco are $50 billion annually, and the indirect costs are about $47 billion."
The use of smokeless tobacco can result in tooth decay and periodontal disease.
"Smokeless tobacco use can also cause precancerous lesions and oral and pharyngeal cancers," Wewers said. "Stopping use, especially when young, can decrease the occurrence of these conditions."
Oral and pharyngeal cancers affect 30,000 people annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Oral cancer is the sixth leading cancer in men. In the United States almost 75 percent of people diagnosed with oral and pharyngeal cancers use tobacco products.
According to the CDC, only 35 percent of oral cancer is detected in its earliest stage. About one person dies every hour from this disease.
Fifty-two percent of people diagnosed with oral and pharyngeal cancer survive five years, according to the CDC. A person's chance of living five years after initial diagnosis increase with early detection of oral cancer.
The delay in diagnosis and relatively poor survival rate is due partly to the public's lack of knowledge of the signs and symptoms of oral cancer.
The most common symptom of oral cancer is a sore in the mouth that does not heal. Other warning signs include numbness in some area of the mouth, loosening of teeth, voice changes and a lump in the neck or cheek.