More High School Athletes Using ‘Dip’ and ‘Chew,’ CDC Finds

More High School Athletes Using ‘Dip’ and ‘Chew’

By Steven Reinberg

HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Sept. 3, 2015 (HealthDay News) — High school athletes may be getting the message that cigarettes are bad for their health, but the same can’t be said for smokeless tobacco, a new government report shows.

In fact, these young athletes were almost 80 percent more likely to use smokeless tobacco products than non-athletes, researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found.

Among high school athletes, the use of smokeless tobacco — such as chew, moist snuff or dip — increased from 10 percent in 2001 to more than 11 percent in 2013. Meanwhile, the use of smokeless tobacco remained roughly the same among non-athletes, hovering at 6 percent. During that same period, the use of cigarettes and cigars dropped significantly among all high school students, from 31.5 percent to 19.5 percent, the report showed.

“This trend is concerning,” said report author Brian King, deputy director for research translation at the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health.

“We know that smokeless tobacco has health harms,” he said. “Aside from the fact that it includes nicotine, which is highly addictive and also can harm the developing adolescent brain, smokeless tobacco is linked with a variety of cancers, such as in the mouth, the esophagus and the pancreas,” King said.

It is also associated with an increased risk of heart disease and stroke, he said.

However, King said, kids may think smokeless tobacco is a safe. “They are unaware of the harm associated with nicotine or tobacco,” he said. And, kids may see snuff and chewing tobacco as more socially acceptable than smoking, King said.

He added that the use of dip and chew among professional athletes may influence teens because kids may see these athletes as role models.

“Teens may also think these products will boost their athletic performance,” King said.

The latest report used data from the national Youth Risk Behavior Surveys, which includes high school students throughout the United States. The findings were published online Sept. 4 in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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