Laboratory studies on snuff-dipping and oral cancer

D. Hoffmann, K. D. Brunnemann, J. D. Adams, S. S. Hecht

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Long-term snuff-dippers have an increased risk for cancer of the oral cavity and, to a lesser extent, cancer of the pharynx. Snuff induces benign and malignant tumors in laboratory animals. The major carcinogens identified in snuff are polonium-210 and volatile, nonvolatile and tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNA). The TSNA are formed from the Nicotiana alkaloids during the processing of the tobacco into snuff. The total concentrations of the TSNA in the 5 most popular U.S. snuff brands (9.6-289 ppm) exceed by at least 2 orders of magnitude the concentrations of nitrosamines in other consumer products. Polonium-210 (0.16-1.22 pCi/g dry snuff) and the tobacco-specific nitrosamines, NNN and NNK, are powerful carcinogens which contribute significantly to the carcinogenic potential of snuff. In view of these findings, it is strongly recommended to reduce the habits of oral tobacco use. For the protection of those who will continue to use smokeless tobacco despite warning, the reduction of polonium-210 and the tobacco-specific nitrosamines should be pursued.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10-13
Number of pages4
JournalCancer Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1986
Externally publishedYes


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