Researchers from Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, India found that chemicals present in chewing tobacco and other smokeless forms of tobacco affect the bodily enzymes along with impairing the genes or DNA, reports research.
The Times of India quoted study authors as saying, “These products are used around the world but are most common in Northern Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Mediterranean region.”
Researchers conducted trial on laboratory rats by giving extracts of smokeless tobacco to them and evaluating changes in their enzymes and genetic material. They found that apart from harmful effects on the mouth, smokeless tobacco also resulted in damaging the functioning of bodily enzymes.
Known to cause various gum diseases and oral cancer, smokeless tobacco products also tended to damage the genetic material in other organs like liver, kidney and lungs. Besides, the extracts of smokeless tobacco may also alter the functioning of the so-called CYP-450 (cytochrome P450) family of enzymes. They are responsible for metabolising compounds such as drugs.
The enzymes are also involved in the production of various hormones, including the sex hormones estrogen and testosterone in humans. In addition, they are responsible for producing cholesterol and vitamin D and help the body break down medicines and potentially toxic substances.
On analyzing the effects of carcinogens and other chemicals found in chewing tobacco and smokeless tobacco products, researchers found that as they are absorbed into the blood they travel through the body, resulting in extensive damage.
Lead researcher, Dr. Krishan L. Khanduja, PGIMER, was quoted by TopNews as saying, “The users of the smokeless tobacco products are highly unaware of the adverse effects, therefore, smokeless products are used to treat, headaches, toothaches and stomachaches.”
The researcher further stated that under this wrong notion, the use of smokeless tobacco products is prevalent among youngsters, children and women apart from men. Also, immigrants from the South Asian regions and other dental and medical students have increased the usage of these products.
So far, scientists had limited information on effects of smokeless tobacco products on other parts of the body, but the extremely detrimental effects are evident to the researchers now.
The study appears in the ACS monthly journal Chemical Research in Toxicology.