Using snus doubles the risk of alcohol dependency

February 25, 2015

People who use snus run twice the risk of developing alcohol dependency compared with non-users, and the more one uses snus, the higher the risk. This has been found in a study from Umeå University which was published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

"This is the first time research has succeeded in showing that middle-aged people who use snus run an increased risk of developing alcohol dependency. Something that makes the results extra interesting is that the relationship between using snus and alcohol dependency does not seem to be independent of smoking habits,  income, education and other socio-economic factors", says Margareta Norberg, Adjunct lecturer, ALC programme, Ageing and Living Conditions, at Umeå University, which is behind the study.

The study is based on the Västerbotten Intervention Programme that annually invite those aged 40, 50 and 60 (30-year olds only until 1996) in the county to health centres for a health examination and a dialogue with a trained nurse with the aim of preventing ill-health with a focus on cardiovascular disease. The participants also fill in a comprehensive survey which, among other things, is about lifestyle and problems related to .

In the current study, 21 000 people are included who participated in the study between 1991-1997 when they were aged 30, 40 or 50. None of the participants then showed signs of alcohol dependency. Of these participants, approximately 75 percent returned to a similar study 10 years later. A quarter of the men, 25 percent, and slightly less than 4 percent of the women used snus upon the first examination.

The study shows that alcohol dependency developed during the ten-year period for just under 8 percent of snus users and 3 percent among those who did not use snus. Men showed slightly higher figures for alcohol dependency than women. In total, 499 men and 257 women developed alcohol dependency.

The relationship between using snus and an increased risk of developing alcohol dependency remained, even when taking into account smoking habits and socio-economic conditions such as education, income, marital status and where in the county the people lived. The more the participants stated that they used snus, measured by the number of consumed snus boxes per week, the higher was the risk of becoming alcohol dependent for both men and women.

Furthermore, it was found that the relationship between using snus and the risk of developing alcohol dependency increased over time, and that the risk was higher for people with higher education compared with those who did not have a higher education degree. Income, however, had no relevance. Those who, upon the first investigation, where aged 50, had a lower risk than those aged 30.

That there is a connection association between smoking and alcohol dependency has been known for a long time. Even if it is not possible to determine from this study what is the underlying cause of the relationship between snus and alcohol dependency, Margareta Norberg points out that nicotine dependency is a common factor for both smoking and snus use that cannot be overlooked. She believes that the risk increase with using snus observed in the current study must be taken seriously.

"A doubled risk of alcohol dependency can be a seemingly quite moderate risk increase seen from the individual perspective, but if using snus is common in a population, it means that the overall use of snus might have an impact on public health. It is therefore important that the research results are made known to the general public and start being discussed", says Margareta Norberg.

Explore further: Snus use in Norway has tripled in five years

More information: Margareta Norberg, Gunnar Malmberg, Nawi Ng, Göran Broströma, "Use of moist smokeless tobacco (snus) and the risk of development of alcohol dependence: A cohort study in a middle-aged population in Sweden," Drug and Alcohol Dependence, DOI: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2015.01.042

Related Stories

Snus use in Norway has tripled in five years

November 20, 2014
The increase in Scandinavian snus consumption in Norway is highest among young people, according to a new report from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.

Quitting smokeless tobacco after heart attack may extend life expectancy

June 23, 2014
People who stop using smokeless tobacco after a heart attack may extend their life expectancy similar to people who stop smoking, according to new research in the American Heart Association journal Circulation.

Hookah pipes, smokeless tobacco snus associated with smoking onset

December 8, 2014
Smoking water pipe tobacco from hookahs and using the smokeless tobacco snus were associated with initiating cigarette smoking and smoking cigarettes in the past 30 days among previously nonsmoking teenagers and young adults, ...

Myth that snuff users today have fewer dental caries

November 26, 2012
It is a myth that snus (Swedish snuff) users today have fewer dental caries. On the contrary, some types of nicotine-free snus contain both carbohydrates and starch that increase the risk of cavities. Those are the findings ...

Gene impedes recovery from alcoholism

November 15, 2011
People who are alcohol-dependent and who also carry a particular variant of a gene run an increased risk of premature death. This is a recent finding from the interdisciplinary research at the Department of Psychology and ...

Recommended for you

Marijuana use may not aid patients in opioid addiction treatment

December 4, 2017
Many patients who are being treated for opioid addiction in a medication-assisted treatment clinic use marijuana to help manage their pain and mood symptoms.

For opiate addiction, study finds drug-assisted treatment is more effective than detox

November 23, 2017
Say you're a publicly insured Californian with an addiction to heroin, fentanyl or prescription narcotics, and you want to quit.

Study finds medical cannabis is effective at reducing opioid addiction

November 17, 2017
A new study conducted by researchers at The University of New Mexico, involving medical cannabis and prescription opioid use among chronic pain patients, found a distinct connection between having the legal ability to use ...

Insomnia linked to alcohol-use frequency among early adolescents, says new psychology study

November 8, 2017
Insomnia is linked to frequency of alcohol use among early adolescents, according to new Rutgers University–Camden research.

Large declines seen in teen substance abuse, delinquency

October 25, 2017
More than a decade of data indicates teens have become far less likely to abuse alcohol, nicotine and illicit drugs, and they also are less likely to engage in delinquent behaviors, such as fighting and stealing, according ...

Trying to get sober? NIH offers tool to help find good care

October 3, 2017
The phone calls come—from fellow scientists and desperate strangers—with a single question for the alcohol chief at the National Institutes of Health: Where can my loved one find good care to get sober?

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.