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Bacteria in chewable tobacco products may increase risk of cancer: Study

If you are addicted to chewable tobacco products like tobacco leaves, khaini, pan masala, zarda and gutka, then stop eating as it is considered not good for health.

Picture used for representational purpose

Zee Media Bureau

New York: If you are addicted to chewable tobacco products like tobacco leaves, khaini, pan masala, zarda and gutka, then stop eating as it is considered not good for health.

And researchers have identified some species of bacteria in these tobacco products that can increase the risk of cancer, lung infections, diarrhoea and vomiting.

The study states that these chewable tobacco products contains bacillus licheniformis and bacillus pumilus, a bacteria species that could potentially cause inflammation of the lungs, as well as many other opportunistic infections.

Steven Foley, research microbiologist at the National Centre for Toxicological Research, US Food and Drug Administration said that some species have been identified as causative agents in spice-related outbreaks of diarrhoea and vomiting. Additionally, they produce a mild toxin which, in large quantities could cause illness.

Several species of bacillus, as well as some stapphylococcus epidermidis and staphylococcus hominis strains can reduce nitrates to nitrites that can potentially lead to cancer, Foley added.

In order to allow nicotine to pass into the bloodstream, individuals hold these products in their mouths and thus come in close contact with mucus membranes for extended periods of time that provides an opportunity for the user to be exposed to bacteria present in the product, the researchers said.

Additionally, users often have problems with gingivitis and other oral health issues that are caused by the smokeless tobacco products.

Previous studies have shown the species of Staphylococci present in these products to cause heart valve infection.

The gum disease, and other oral issues enables bacterial entry into the bloodstream, paving a way to the heart.

The study was undertaken to better understand the potential microbiological risks associated with the use of smokeless tobacco products, and to provide a baseline microbiological risk profile of these products, Foley noted.

The findings were published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

(With IANS inputs)

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