Cancer in Illinois - Resources Cancer Research Funding

   < Home  < Risk Factors


  • The nicotine found in cigarettes and in smokeless tobacco is a powerful, addictive drug that acts on several parts of the body. Once addicted, it becomes difficult, but not impossible, to quit using smokeless tobacco or to stop smoking.
  • The use of tobacco products is not only addicting, but is directly related to a number of health problems and diseases. A few of the oral health problems smokers or smokeless tobacco users can develop are —
bad breath brown, stained teeth ground-down teeth
black hairy tongue gum disease and loss of teeth receding gums
cancers of the cheek, esophagus, lip, palate and tongue
  • Some of the harmful ingredients found in tobacco are —
    arsenic formaldehyde dirt
    fertilizer soot pesticides
    cyanide manure nicotine
    dead bugs
  • At least 19 different types of cancer-causing substances, called nitrosamines, are found in tobacco products.
  • Oral cancer is serious. When it spreads to the lymph nodes in the neck, it is often deadly.
  • Smokeless tobacco is not a harmless alternative to smoking. It is just as hazardous to your health as cigarettes. Protect your health; avoid all tobacco products.
  • The risk of developing lung cancer is 10 times greater for smokers than for non- smokers. Also, breathing second-hand smoke (someone else’s smoke) can be as dangerous as smoking.
  • Once you stop using tobacco products, your blood pressure, pulse rate and skin temperature will return to normal within 20 minutes. Within eight hours, high levels of carbon monoxide in your blood will return to normal and, within a few weeks, your circulation will improve, your sense of taste and smell will improve, and you will have fewer colds and more energy. It is never too late to stop!

For more information, contact

Illinois Department of Public Health, Division of Oral Health
535 W. Jefferson St., Springfield, IL 62761
217-785-4899, TTY (hearing impaired use only) 800-547-0466

NOTE: This fact sheet was derived from one previously published by the Arizona Department of Health Services.