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Smokeless tobacco threatens heart health.

Spit, or smokeless, tobacco causes the user's heart rate, blood pressure and epinephrine (adrenaline) levels to jump, according to a new study in the March 15, 2005, issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. The potent short-term effects suggest potential long-term health risks.

"Although we did anticipate some increase in blood pressure, we were surprised at the magnitude of the increase, as well as the very striking increases in heart rate," said study author Dr. Virend K. Somers of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. "Also surprising was the substantial increase in plasma epinephrine. We anticipated, as these individuals were young and healthy and were accustomed to using spit tobacco, that any responses we measured would in fact be blunted. Therefore, the degree of increase in the measurements we took was of great interest."

In the preliminary study, average blood pressure jumped 10 millimeters of mercury, heart rate increased 16 beats per minute, and epinephrine levels in the blood increased about 50 percent after using smokeless tobacco.

The study tested Smokey Mountain and Copenhagen snuff, products that are similar in taste, texture and color, except that Smokey Mountain does not contain tobacco and is nicotine-free. Each session was conducted using the same protocol on two separate days, in a random order.

Cardiologist Ragavendra Baliga from the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor, who was not connected with this study, said the data demonstrate additional threats to the cardiovascular system from tobacco products other than cigarettes.

"The consumption of snuff has increased particularly among young men and adolescent boys, making it important that we do a better job of educating the general public, particularly children and adolescents, about health risks associated with smokeless tobacco," Dr. Baliga said.
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Publication:Medical Update
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2005
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