Baseball Players and Chewing Tobacco

Baseball players still chew tobacco even though it causes cancer of the mouth, tongue, lip and throat. A study from the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine showed that chewing tobacco decreases the flow of blood to the heart to tire you earlier during exercise.

The nicotine in tobacco is a potent stimulant, but most athletes produce so much adrenalin before a competition that they don't need any more stimulation. When you smoke tobacco, the nicotine is absorbed from the lungs and travels undiluted directly to the brain so that eight seconds after you puff on a cigarette, almost all the inhaled nicotine is inside your brain cells to cause a sudden jolt that calms you down, makes you more alert, and even helps you concentrate better. If you take another puff before some of the nicotine has cleared from your brain, the dose is too great and can cause headaches, nausea, dizziness, flushing and shakiness.

When you chew tobacco, nicotine is absorbed through your cheeks and mouth and is diluted by blood from the rest of the body before it reaches your brain, so that small amounts of nicotine reach the brain continuously over long periods of time, and you can tolerate much larger doses. Baseball players don't seem to care, but most people realize that this habit looks disgusting and has terrible health hazards.

1) KSIR, J Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness. 1986(Dec); 26(4);384-389.

2) Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 1992(March);24:389-395

Checked 8/31/08

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