So I thought it would be a good idea to write a blog mini-series around the topic of my thesis. Not only is my thesis on something super interesting for everyone to read about, but I also thought it would kick-start me into doing some reading in preparation for working on it in the New Year.
On the Global Health Masters Programme, you have to starting thinking about thesis projects from Day 1. Yeah, seriously Day 1. At the first introduction lecture on the first day we were told to start emailing potential supervisors! It is only a 10 month Masters so everything is crammed together right from the beginning.
Although we have the option to in Global Health to travel abroad and find a project to work on, I kind of knew I would stay in Sweden for my thesis. I wanted to do a quantitative statistical project which utilises the population registry in Sweden – which makes data collection for public health and epidemiology an absolute breeze.
Limiting myself to the Public Health Epidemiology research group at KI I approached a supervisor working on the health effects of something completely unique to Scandinavia and particularly Sweden – snus.
My thesis will be looking at the use of snus, smoking and the development of oral cancer.
Part 1 – What the deuce is snus?
Not many people outside of Sweden know about snus (pronounced snoose). Basically, it’s a type of tobacco which you don’t smoke.
Snus is a smokeless type of tobacco, similar to snuff, chewing tobacco, dip, paan, gutka, betel quid or naswar depending on where in the world you come from. Unlike snuff, where dry tobacco is inhaled through the nostril, snus is taken orally being placed in the mouth between the upper lip and the gum. Here the tobacco releases nicotine which is absorbed into the bloodstream and takes action upon the brain – giving a similar nicotine hit to that of smoking a cigarette.
The use of snus in Sweden is very popular with 19% of men using it on a daily basis, compared with the 9% of men who smoke every day. Perhaps this is why Swedish men have the lowest lung cancer incidence in Europe?
Snus comes either in pre-made packs called portions (below) or loose (lös – featured top image). The most common form nowadays is portions due to the messiness and inconvenience of loose. On average most people keep snus in their mouths from between 20 minutes to 1 hour, and then they’ll discard it.
In the next part I’ll explain a little bit about the history of snus, why its popular in Sweden and the use of it worldwide.