New evidence that smokeless tobacco damages DNA and key enzymes

Jun 16, 2010
Smokeless tobacco appears to damage DNA and key enzymes in the body.

Far from having adverse effects limited to the mouth, smokeless tobacco affects the normal function of a key family of enzymes found in almost every organ in the body, according to the first report on the topic in ACS' monthly journal Chemical Research in Toxicology. The enzymes play important roles in production of hormones, including the sex hormones estrogen and testosterone; production of cholesterol and vitamin D; and help the body breakdown prescription drugs and potentially toxic substances. Smokeless tobacco also damages genetic material in the liver, kidney and lungs.

Krishan Khanduja and colleagues note widespread recognition of smokeless tobacco's harmful effects on the mouth, which include an increased risk of gum disease and oral cancer. The potential carcinogens and other chemicals in chewing tobacco and other smokeless products are absorbed into the blood and travel throughout the body. However, scientists have little information on smokeless tobacco's effects on other parts of the body. To fill that knowledge gap, the scientists evaluated changes in enzymes and in laboratory rats using extracts of .

In addition to damage to the genetic material DNA, they found that smokeless tobacco extracts alter the function of the so-called CYP-450 family of enzymes. "These products are used around the world but are most common in Northern Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Mediterranean region," the report says. "Most of the users seem to be unaware of the harmful health effects and, therefore, use smokeless tobacco to 'treat' toothaches, headaches, and stomachaches. This false impression only promotes tobacco use among youth. The use of smokeless tobacco and its new products is increasing not only among men but also among children, teenagers, women, and immigrants of South Asian origin and medical and dental students."

Explore further: New tool identifies therapeutic proteins in a 'snap'

More information: "Involvement of Various Molecular Events in Cellular Injury Induced by Smokeless Tobacco", Chemical Research in Toxicology.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Is snuff the answer to quitting smoking?

Sep 18, 2006

Researchers in Washington say smokeless tobacco is much safer than cigarettes but the jury is out on whether smokers should be encouraged to switch habits.

Smokeless tobacco safer than smoking

Jul 28, 2009

Smokeless tobacco products, as used in Europe and North America, do not appear to increase cancer risk. A large meta-analysis, published in the open access journal BMC Medicine, has shown that snuff as used in Scandinavia has no ...

Recommended for you

New tool identifies therapeutic proteins in a 'snap'

Aug 21, 2014

(Phys.org) —In human and bacterial cells, glycosylation – the chemical process of attaching complex sugar molecules to proteins – is as fundamental as it gets, affecting every biological mechanism from cell signaling ...

Treating pain by blocking the 'chili-pepper receptor'

Aug 20, 2014

Biting into a chili pepper causes a burning spiciness that is irresistible to some, but intolerable to others. Scientists exploring the chili pepper's effect are using their findings to develop a new drug ...

Moving single cells around—accurately and cheaply

Aug 19, 2014

Scientists at the Houston Methodist Research Institute have figured out how to pick up and transfer single cells using a pipette—a common laboratory tool that's been tweaked slightly. They describe this ...

The difficult question of Clostridium difficile

Aug 19, 2014

The bacterium Clostridium difficile causes antibiotic-related diarrhoea and is a growing problem in the hospital environment and elsewhere in the community. Understanding how the microbe colonises the hu ...

User comments : 0