Boston, MA (SportsNetwork.com) - Former All-Star pitcher Curt Schilling said chewing smokeless tobacco gave him cancer.
Schilling, appearing on WEEI radio in Boston, said he is in remission after undergoing treatment for squamous cell carcinoma. He revealed his diagnosis in February with a statement through ESPN and spoke publicly about it for the first time on Wednesday.
The 47-year-old six-time All-Star said he chewed tobacco for about 30 years and firmly believes it is the reason he developed cancer.
"I'll go to my grave believing that was why I got what I got," Schilling said during the radio interview. "Absolutely. No question in my mind about that. I do believe without a doubt, unquestionably, that chewing is what gave me cancer.
"I'm not going to sit up here from the pedestal and preach about chewing. ... It was an addictive habit, I can think about so many times in my life when it was so relaxing to just 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 I was in going through this treatment, the second or third day, it was the first thing and the only thing in my life that I've ever had that I wish I could go back and never have dipped. Not once. It was so painful."
Schilling said he lost 75 pounds during his treatment, which included radiation and chemotherapy, and added that his recovery is challenging.
"There are so many things that are damaged during the process," Schilling noted. "I don't have any salivary glands, so I can't taste anything, and I can't smell anything right now. And there's no guarantee they'll come back."
The news about Schilling comes just two months after Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn died after battling cancer of the salivary gland following his use of smokeless tobacco.
Schilling pitched 20 seasons in the majors with five different teams (Baltimore, Houston, Philadelphia, Arizona, Boston) before retiring following the 2007 campaign.