Evidence as of 2015 suggests that chewing tobacco may be safer than cigarettes; however, using any tobacco product poses serious health risks, according to Mayo Clinic. Chewing tobacco contains approximately 30 different carcinogens, and it contains an addictive chemical called nicotine.
A person who is addicted to nicotine may experience withdrawal symptoms, including a depressed mood, irritability, intense cravings and increased appetite. Using chewing tobacco increases the risk of certain oral cancers, including cancer of the gums, lips, cheek and throat. Other cancers associated with chewing tobacco include mouth, esophageal and pancreatic cancer.
Because chewing tobacco contains a significant amount of sugar, it may cause dental problems, such as tooth decay, gum disease and cavities. The rough particles in chewing tobacco can irritate and erode the teeth. Chewing tobacco may increase blood pressure and heart rate, which can lead to cardiac disease or stroke.
People who use chewing tobacco are at risk of developing leukoplakia , which are small, white patches of precancerous lesions that occur in the mouth. Leukoplakia can eventually turn into cancer. There is no evidence to prove that using chewing tobacco helps with quitting cigarettes, so people should never use chewing tobacco as an alternative to smoking, as it may turn into a second addiction. If quitting proves to be too difficult, it may be necessary to speak to a doctor about using a quitting aid.