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Former MLB Pitcher Treated for Oral Cancer

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Curt Schilling

Schilling, a 3-time World Series champion, came clean about his condition on August 20.

?I didn?t talk about it for two reasons,? Schilling said in a Boston Globe article. ?No. 1, I didn?t want to get into the chewing tobacco debate, which I knew was going to come about, which to me I?ll go to my grave believing that was why I got what I got. And the second thing was I didn?t want people to feel sorry for me, I didn?t want the pity.?

Schilling originally announced in February that he had cancer before it went into remission in June.

?I?m not going to sit up here from the pedestal and preach about chewing,? Schilling said. ?I will say this: I dipped for about 30 years, and it was an addictive habit that I can think of so many times in my life when it was so relaxing to 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 first thing I had in my life that I wished I could go back and never have dipped. Not once.?

Gywnn, a member of the San Diego Padres, and the 2007 Hall of Fame class, passed away in June after battling oral cancer. Gwynn?s death sparked some MLB players to speak out against the use of smokeless tobacco, including Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg and Arizona Diamondbacks reliever Addison Reed.

?I think it?s a disgusting habit, looking back on it,? Strasburg said. ?I was pretty naive when I started. Just doing it here and there, I didn?t think it was going to be such an addiction? Bottom line is, I want to be around for my family. This is something that can affect people the rest of your life.?

With the recent onslaught of news coming forward about professional athletes facing oral cancer because of their tobacco use, what can MLB do to put an end to the negativity?

Oral Health America?s NSTEP (National Spit Tobacco Education Program) has already stepped in as part of a coalition of organizations that influenced the limit on use of smokeless tobacco products in Major League ballparks in 2012, including preventing players from using smokeless tobacco products on the field and in front of fans and cameras.

The group?s goal is to prevent potential users, especially young ones, from picking up the product while also helping those already addicted to quit.

According to NSTEP, ?millions of Americans put their health at risk by using spit tobacco products and almost half (46%) of new users are under 18 when they first try it.?

?Chewing tobacco, specifically snuff, actually has things like fiber glass that roughs up the mucous [membrane]; this is meant to aid the absorption of nicotine, but it also creates a more permeable place for carcinogens to enter the tissue,? Dr. Chad Zender of the UH Case Medical Center said to Fox News. ?And just like tobacco smoke, tobacco itself has cancer-causing compounds in it.  If you add it to things like alcohol, it works together synergistically.?

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