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Oral Cancer Claims Another Athlete?s Life

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His numbers spoke for themselves, as ?Mr. Padre? played all 20 of his seasons with 1 team, the San Diego Padres, while batting .338 for his career, including 3,141 hits and 1,138 RBIs. He was an 8 time National League batting champion, a 15 time all-star, a 5 time gold glove winner, a 7 time silver slugger and also won the Roberto Clemente Award in 1999, which is awarded to a player that "best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual's contribution to his team", as voted on by baseball fans and members of the media.?

What has everyone talking now though is how he died. Gwynn lost his battle to oral cancer, contracted through what Gwynn believes was his use of smokeless tobacco throughout his career.

CNN reports, ?a survey administered in 1999 found that close to one-third of rookies starting in the major leagues were already regular smokeless tobacco users. More than two-thirds had tried smokeless tobacco. Other studies found similar rates -- about 30% -- in the majors in the '70s and '80s, though smokeless tobacco use among players began declining in the late 1990s.?

?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.?

?For several of my patients, if they chew tobacco on one point of the mouth, that is the part of the mouth that develops cancer,? Dr. Krzysztof Misiukiewicz, assistant professor of medical oncology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai said. ?It?s proof that direct contact matters.?

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