Smokeless tobacco products contain heavy metal

Smokeless tobacco products that are manufactured in India contain heavy metal, reveals a study report published in The Scientific World Journal.

The study—Determination of Toxic Metals in Indian Smokeless Tobacco Products— was carried out on 30 Indian smokeless tobacco brands by the Indian Institute of Environmental Medicine (IIEM), Mumbai.

As per the report, high levels of lead and cadmium content were found in some gutkha brands— lead in four brands and cadmiun in two. One of the gutkha brands contained high levels of arsenic content and four other brands exceeded the permissible levels of copper content in them, says the report.

“Exposure to each of these (brands) were calculated using an average consumption of 10 pouches per day,” said Dr Aditi Deshpande, research scientist at the analytical laboratory at IIEM and co- author of the research paper.

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“Several food products in India have recommended certain limits for some heavy metals. However, smokeless tobacco products are classified under foods for regulatory purposes. The limits for metals have not been specified. Therefore, the daily intake of these elements was compared with the provisional tolerable weekly intake (PTWI). The proposed maximum permissible level has been suggested by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and World Health Organisation (WHO),” said Dr Deshpande.

According to statistics, India has 250 million tobacco consumers of which 80 per cent are smokeless tobacco consumers.

“Intake of tobacco damages the genes. However, presence of mercury or lead in the product is far more dangerous as it can be lethal to kidneys, blood producing cells and human organs,” said Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi, associate professor of head and neck surgery at Tata Memorial Hospital.
Cadmium is also extremely toxic and causes prostate cancer, renal cancer, breast cancer, testes cancer and bladder cancer, he said.

Meanwhile, the researchers said they need to carry out further study. “It was observed that gutkha had significant levels of metals as compared to other brands of smokeless tobacco products,” said Dr Deshpande.

All for a smoke-free city
Medical students on Wednesday joined the Smoke-free Mumbai (SFM) campaign launched by KEM Hospital and conducted a signature campaign to urge the government to effectively implement the ban on smoking in public places. As part of the campaign, volunteers wore T-shirts displaying a message: “Khaasi Sunao Sutta Bujhao”
Jan 29, 2010, Indianexpress

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