NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms
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chewing tobacco (CHOO-ing tuh-BA-koh)
A type of smokeless tobacco made from cured tobacco leaves. It may be sweetened and flavored with licorice and other substances. It comes in the form of loose tobacco leaves, pellets or “bits” (leaf tobacco rolled into small pellets), plugs (leaf tobacco pressed and held together with some type of sweetener), or twists (leaf tobacco rolled into rope-like strands and twisted). It is placed in the mouth, usually between the cheek and lower lip, and may be chewed. Chewing tobacco contains nicotine and many harmful, cancer-causing chemicals. Using it can lead to nicotine addiction and can cause cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and pancreas. Chewing tobacco use may also cause gum disease, heart disease, stroke, and other health problems. Also called spit tobacco.