Chewing Tobacco: Major Source of Oral Cancer
We’ve all had that moment of truth in our lives. Maybe when we were younger, or maybe during college: people pass around cigarettes, or sports teams urge players to try chewing tobacco. Unfortunately, those choices can lead to lingering habits.
Recently, longtime MLB pitcher Curt Schilling revealed he has been battling oral cancer since February. Schilling believes his oral cancer stemmed from his use of chewing tobacco during his time in the MLB.
In a recent interview with NESN and WEEI, Schilling states, “This all came about from a dog bite,” Schilling said. “I got bitten by a dog and I had some damage to my finger and I went to see a doctor, and the day that I went to see the doctor, I was driving and I went to rub my neck and I felt a lump on the left side of my neck. And I knew immediately it wasn’t normal. So there happened to be an ENT [Ear, Nose, and Throat] right next door to the hand doctor, and I thought what the heck, let me just stop in and see and so I waited in the office and went in there and they did the biopsy, and two days later, they diagnosed me with squamous cell carcinoma.
“I do believe without a doubt, unquestionably that chewing is what gave me cancer and I’m not going to sit up here from the pedestal and preach about chewing. I will say this: I did for about 30 years. It was an addictive habit. I can think of so many times in my life when it was so relaxing to just sit back and have a dip and do whatever, and I lost my sense of smell, my taste buds for the most part. I had gum issues, they bled, all this other stuff. None of it was enough to ever make me quit. The pain that I was in going through this treatment, the second or third day it was the only thing in my life that had that I wish I could go back and never have dipped. Not once. It was so painful.”
Many other baseball players have also come forward about their battles with oral cancer due to tobacco, including Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, who passed away ealier this year at only 54.