Smokeless Tobacco Causes Cancer

By Dr. Robert Wallace

September 15, 2018 5 min read

DR. WALLACE: My younger brother (he's 17) and two of his friends think they are cool because they chew tobacco. I told him he looks like a dunce when he chews and spits. It's terribly disgusting. I talked about this with my dad, but he said that he chewed tobacco when he was 17 and it was no big deal.

Can chewing tobacco lead to an addiction, or is it, as my father says, "no more than a passing fancy"? — Anonymous, Charleston, W.Va.

ANONYMOUS: Your father is mistaken. All tobacco users can become addicted to nicotine. It doesn't make any difference whether it is smoked, chewed or dipped. Nicotine is an extremely addictive drug, and it is difficult to overcome.

Over 9,000 people die every year from oral cancers caused by smokeless tobacco, according to the American Cancer Society. Chronic smokeless tobacco users risk developing leukoplakia, a condition characterized by white wrinkled patches of skin in the mouth where the tobacco is held. Leukoplakia often turns into cancer.

In 2018, thousands of smokeless tobacco users will die from cancer caused by "chewing and spitting." They didn't realize the power of nicotine until it was too late. Make sure your father reads this column — and your brother, too.


DR. WALLACE: I'm a 16-year-old cheerleader who has strong feelings for the "young at heart" 27-year-old football coach at our school. I often find myself hoping to have a future with him. I do realize it's impossible right now. I currently date guys my own age, but I can't get the coach out of my mind. I know he's aware that I like him, and he still is very friendly with me. I know you'll tell me to forget it, but in a few years, when I am 18 and have graduated, could things between us possibly work out? — Infatuated, Dallas

Infatuated: Anything is possible in the future, but I wouldn't think landing the coach would be an easy task. Not counting the age difference, high school teachers rarely marry one of their former students. It breaks no rules, but such a marriage would be frowned upon by fellow educators, parents and the community at large.

It's not unusual for students to have romantic feelings for particular teachers once in a while, but the good news is that as you age, these feelings do fade away in almost every case.


DR. WALLACE: I'm 21, and my 16-year-old sister has been expelled from school for being defiant of authority. At home, she is also defiant. She sneaks out of the house in the middle of the night and hangs with kids who also have major control problems. She also has uncontrollable anger and is very aggressive. A private school and counseling have not helped the situation at all. The police tell my parents they can't do anything unless she's caught committing a crime. My parents are considering putting her in a boot camp. What should our family do to help my sister, in your opinion? — Elder Sister, Ontario, Calif.

ELDER SISTER: There's no doubt from the contents of your letter that your sister is out of control, and if things don't change drastically, she is headed for serious trouble. I am familiar with a boot camp in your area that works with boys and is very successful in helping them change direction to a positive lifestyle. Your sister is a prime candidate for a boot camp for girls. The sooner she enters a program the better for her, you, your parents, your community and society in general. Please tell your parents that a situation as dire as the one you're describing does not solve itself without intervention. Suggest to your parents that they take action immediately to get your sister the help she needs.

Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

Photo credit: at Pixabay

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