September 25, 2023
Smoking is not merely an unhealthy habit but a leading risk factor for several types of cancer. The journey towards quitting smoking can be challenging. But as science and medicine evolve, the options for quitting smoking are also increasing. One such solution that has been immensely popular amongst smokers who want to quit is nicotine gum.
However, results from some research studies have identified a potential link between nicotine gum and cancer. In this blog post, we will share detailed insights and information about whether nicotine gum can cause cancer, its potential side effects, and how to use nicotine gum effectively. Read on to learn more.
Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) is a form of treatment intended to aid smokers in their journey to quit smoking. NRT comes in various forms, and each of them delivers nicotine to the patients without the harmful components of tobacco or carcinogenic chemicals.
Nicotine gum is a popular NRT where nicotine content gets absorbed through the mouth's inner lining when chewed, triggering the release of pleasure-inducing dopamine and adrenaline. Over time, the strength and dosage are reduced. This controlled use can help reduce and eventually eliminate the urge to smoke in the long run.
When a person tries to quit smoking, they often experience withdrawal symptoms like irritability, anxiety, and intense craving to smoke. These gums supply a controlled dose of nicotine to the body that helps control the withdrawal symptoms. Nicotine gum is typically available in different strengths, allowing users to start with a higher nicotine content strength and gradually reduce the dose as they progress and are able to deal with the withdrawal symptoms.
Multiple research studies and scientific reviews have been conducted for years to examine the relationship between nicotine and cancer risk. In 2009, a study started making headlines, suggesting that nicotine-containing products may cause mouth cancer. The study focused on the FOXM1 gene associated with various cancers. They found that prolonged nicotine exposure to lab-grown mouth cells activated the FOXM1 gene, potentially speeding up cell transformation and causing cancer.
If an individual already has a mouth lesion with elevated FOXM1 levels, using nicotine-containing products could potentially increase the likelihood of that lesion progressing into cancer. Nonetheless, neither the elevated FOXM1 levels nor nicotine alone can lead to the development of cancer. The primary side effects of nicotine gum occur due to its stimulant properties, which can also lead to addiction. The main goal is to avoid excessive usage and follow the instructions provided by a healthcare professional.
While there are no diagnostic tests to measure the levels of FOXM1, a few tests can assess the activity of this gene in your body. Individuals who want to get their FOXM1 gene tested to assess their risk should consult a healthcare provider for further information and guidance.
Ideally, nicotine replacement treatment with gum should last for approximately 12 to 18 weeks (about 4 months) under medical supervision. However, its effects may vary depending on individual health and may lead to possible side effects, which are as follows:
High blood pressure
Nausea & vomiting
Sore throat & coughing
Jaw muscle ache
Additionally, it is crucial to follow the prescription strictly to prevent overdose. The symptoms of nicotine overdose may include the following:
Individuals experiencing any of these side effects should discontinue the use of nicotine gum immediately and consult a healthcare professional.
Prolonged usage of nicotine gum without the intention to quit smoking may lead to various health-related issues in the long run, including:
Premature hair loss
Increased risk of oral cancer
Nicotine gum is available in two doses: 2 mg and 4 mg. The 4 mg dose is more effective in aiding the quitting process for heavy smokers who smoke more than 20 cigarettes per day or smoke within the first 30 minutes of waking up. Others may start with the 2 mg dose. It is important to consult a healthcare provider to determine the appropriate strength and dosage of the nicotine gum to get an effective result.
Nicotine gum may resemble regular gum, but it is absorbed through the mouth's lining, not through swallowing. Therefore, individuals should not chew it like typical gum. Follow the part and chew method to get the most effective result:
Place a piece of nicotine gum in your mouth.
Chew it slowly for 15 to 30 minutes until you get a peppery taste.
Flatten the gum with your tongue and park it against the side of your mouth.
Keep it like this for about a minute, slowly chew the gum again, and park.
Repeat this park and chew process for about 30 minutes or until the peppery taste disappears.
Individuals can purchase nicotine gum without a prescription, as it is available over the counter. However, it is wise to consult a healthcare professional and follow their instructions if you are suffering from the following health conditions:
High blood pressure
Individuals following a sodium-restricted diet or using non-nicotine smoking cessation drugs or anti-depressants should also seek professional guidance before using nicotine gum. Individuals aged below 18 and pregnant or breastfeeding women should also consult a healthcare professional when it comes to nicotine gums.
Do not use nicotine gum while continuing to smoke, as this can lead to overdose.
Do not exceed 24 pieces of gum a day.
Avoid eating or drinking anything within the first 15 minutes after chewing gum, especially acidic foods or beverages.
Do not chew multiple pieces of gum at once.
So, coming back to the question: Does nicotine gum cause cancer? Based on current scientific understanding, nicotine gum may cause cancer if used unsupervised and for a prolonged time period. Extensive research and clinical studies have consistently shown that when used as directed in smoking cessation programs, nicotine gum does not pose a significant risk of causing cancer. Since nicotine itself is not classified as a carcinogen, controlled use of nicotine gums helps curb cravings and withdrawal symptoms, making the process of quitting smoking more manageable.
For any questions or concerns about cancer risks, prevention, or treatment, contact ACTC at +1 352-345-4565. We are one of the leading cancer treatment centers in Florida, offering personalized, advanced cancer treatment plans under the supervision of a multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals.