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Study: Snus use has no impact on cardiovascular disease risk

A new study from the United States reveals that the risk of cardiovascular disease among snus users is no higher compared to people who have never used tobacco.

Habitual smokers run an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease compared to non-smokers.

But using smokeless tobacco products like snus doesn’t result in any increased risk, according to a new study led by researchers at UCLA.

Biomarkers predict cardiovascular disease risk

According to the results of the study, published in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research, nicotine is not the primary cause of the increased risk of cardiovascular disease found among tobacco users.

Rather, smokers have a heightened risk of developing such disease because of substances released in connection with tobacco combustion.

“Despite having higher levels of nicotine, exclusive smokeless tobacco users had significantly lower concentrations of inflammation and oxidative stress biomarkers than cigarette smokers,” lead author Mary Rezk-Hanna from UCLA said in a statement.

“Levels of these biomarkers among smokeless tobacco users were similar to those of ‘never’ smokers.”

The findings are based on data from 4,347 adults who participated in the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health Study. Among this group, 338 used only smokeless tobacco, and 3,034 smoked cigarettes exclusively. In addition, 975 participants had never used tobacco in any form. 

Results support case for tobacco harm reduction

That cigarettes cause serious illness – such as cardiovascular disease – is nothing new. However, the UCLA study is the first to show that using smokeless tobacco doesn’t result in any increase in cardiovascular disease-related biomarkers compared to never-smokers.

“Levels of these biomarkers among smokeless tobacco users were similar to those of ‘never’ smokers.”

-UCLA researcher Mary Rezk-Hanna

The findings suggest smokers who switch from cigarettes to smokeless tobacco products such as snus are likely to experience health benefits, specifically lower risk for developing cardiovascular disease.

The study thus provides strong support for tobacco harm reduction. It shows that reduced-risk nicotine and tobacco products as alternatives to deadly cigarettes can lower health risks for users.

Despite this and other evidence demonstrating the health benefits of snus and other non-combustible products compared to cigarettes, the WHO continues to ignore harm reduction as a tool for fighting cancer.

While the authors acknowledge that smokeless tobacco is associated with a lower risk for cardiovascular disease, they stress that it’s best to not use tobacco or nicotine products at all.