Background: Although classified as carcinogenic, snuff is used increasingly in several populations. Scandinavian moist snuff (snus) has been proposed as a less harmful alternative to smoking, but precise data on the independent associations of snus use with site-specific cancers are sparse. We aimed to assess the risks for cancer of the oral cavity, lung, and pancreas.
Methods: Detailed information about tobacco smoking and snus use was obtained from 279 897 male Swedish construction workers in 1978-92. Complete follow-up until end of 2004 was accomplished through links with population and health registers. To distinguish possible effects of snus from those of smoking, we focused on 125 576 workers who were reported to be never-smokers at entry. Adjusted relative risks were derived from Cox proportional hazards regression models.
Findings: 60 cases of oral, 154 of lung, and 83 of pancreatic cancer were recorded in never-smokers. Snus use was independently associated with increased risk of pancreatic cancer (relative risk for ever-users of snus 2.0; 95% CI 1.2-3.3, compared with never-users of any tobacco), but was unrelated to incidence of oral (0.8, 95% CI 0.4-1.7) and lung cancer (0.8, 0.5-1.3).
Interpretation: Use of Swedish snus should be added to the list of tentative risk factors for pancreatic cancer. We were unable to confirm any excess of oral or lung cancer in snus users.