Research Highlight

Tobacco chewing in women

doi:10.1038/nindia.2009.77 Published online 5 March 2009

In the first such cohort study among women, researchers have found that frequent tobacco chewing strongly increases the incidence of oral cancer among them1.

The researchers analysed oral cancer risk among women in relation to tobacco use, and socioeconomic status in a rural cohort in Kerala, India. Smoking and alcohol drinking were rare in this population of women.

They found that frequent tobacco chewing strongly increased oral cancer incidence. Daily frequency of tobacco chewing was strongly related to oral cancer incidence among women, and the risk among women chewing tobacco 10 times or more a day was 9.2-fold higher than that of non-tobacco chewers. Moreover, it increased with duration of chewing during the first 20 years.

While xamining oral cancer in a cohort of 78,140 women aged 30–84 years, they collected baseline information on lifestyle, including tobacco chewing, and sociodemographic factors during the period 1990–1997. By the end of 2005, 92 oral cancer cases were identified by a local cancer registry.


  1. Jayalekshmi, P. A. et al. Tobacco chewing and female oral cavity cancer risk in Karunagappally cohort, India. Brit. J. Cancer 100, 848–852 (2009)