Contribution of Swedish moist snuff to the metabolic syndrome: a wolf in sheep's clothing?

Scand J Public Health. 2006;34(6):576-83. doi: 10.1080/14034940600665143.


Aim: Combined effects of genetic and environmental factors underlie the clustering of cardiovascular risk factors in the metabolic syndrome (MetSy). The aim was to investigate associations between several lifestyle factors and MetSy, with a focus on the possible role of smokeless tobacco in the form of Swedish moist snuff (snus).

Methods: A population-based longitudinal cohort study within the Västerbotten Intervention Programme in Northern Sweden. All inhabitants at the ages of 30, 40, 50, and 60 are invited to participate in a health survey that includes a questionnaire on psychosocial conditions and lifestyle and measurement of biological variables. Individuals examined in 1990-94 (n = 24,230) and who also returned for follow-up after 10 years were included (total of 16,492 individuals: 46.6% men and 53.4% women). Regression analyses were performed. MetSy was the outcome and analyses were adjusted for age, sex, alcohol abuse, and family history of CVD and diabetes.

Results: Ten-year development of MetSy was associated with high-dose consumption of snus at baseline (OR 1.6 [95% CI 1.26-2.15]), low education (2.2 [1.92-2.63]), physical inactivity (1.5 [1.22-1.73]) and former smoking (1.2 [1.06-1.38]). Snus was associated with separate components of MetSy, including triglycerides (1.6, 1.30-1.95), obesity (1.7 [1.36-2.18]) but not hypertension, dysglycemia and low HDL cholesterol.

Conclusions: MetSy is independently associated with high consumption of snus, even when controlling for smoking status. The finding is of public health interest in societies with widespread use of snus. More research is needed to better understand the mechanisms underlying this effect.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / blood
  • Metabolic Syndrome / complications
  • Metabolic Syndrome / etiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Sweden / epidemiology
  • Tobacco, Smokeless / adverse effects*