Test of Baseball Players Shows Tobacco Danger

Nearly half of a group of professional baseball players who used snuff or chewing tobacco regularly had lesions in their mouths, researchers said Monday.

Samples of tissue taken from some of the lesions showed they were not cancerous, but some are likely to develop into cancer, said Virginia Ernster of UC San Francisco.

Ernster was part of a 16-member University of California dental team that examined 1,109 players in locker rooms, on the field and in a stadium canteen during spring training in Arizona last year.

The doctors found that 39% of the players from major and minor league teams used snuff or chewing tobacco in the week before they were examined.


An additional 4% used smokeless tobacco during the previous month and 13% were former users.

Of those who used smokeless tobacco at least weekly, 46% had oral lesions. Fewer than 2% of non-tobacco users had such lesions, Ernster said.