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Cancer Res. 1981 Nov;41(11 Pt 1):4305-8.

Carcinogenic tobacco-specific N-nitrosamines in snuff and in the saliva of snuff dippers.


Human data indicate an increased risk for cancer of the oral cavity for snuff dippers. Popular snuff products from the United States, Germany, Sweden, and Denmark were analyzed for tobacco-specific N-nitrosamines (TSNA). These compounds are formed during tobacco processing from nicotine, nornicotine, and anatabine and represent the only known carcinogens in snuff. N'-Nitrosonornicotine, a moderately active carcinogen, ranged in dry snuff from 3.5 to 77 ppm; 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone, a relatively strong carcinogen, ranged from 0.6 to 7.0 ppm; and N'-nitrosoanatabine, thus far not bioassayed, ranged from 0.8 to 44 ppm. The concentrations of TSNA in a given snuff product can vary widely, and aging in the open air can lead to an increase in TSNA. Analysis of the saliva of snuff dippers revealed that these nitrosamines are extracted from the tobacco plug during snuff dipping and that their concentrations in saliva can vary widely between users. Efforts should be made to reduce the TSNA in snuff by modifications of the production process and by wrapping individual snuff portions in airtight packets.

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