Hookah smoking is worse for you than smoking a half a pack of cigarettes a day, a new study suggests.
The study was published in March in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.
The researchers used 13 subjects who smoked from water pipes three times a day, and also smoked about 11 cigarettes a day.
The participants were instructed to only smoke hookah for four days of the study, and a week later, to only smoke cigarettes. The researchers studied chemicals in their pee and breath.
They found that the water pipes delivered more dangerous chemicals than cigarette smoking. According to Science News:
Urine tests revealed that the volunteers had higher benzene levels when smoking hookahs than when smoking cigarettes. Benzene inhalation is associated with leukemia and lung cancer. The volunteers’ tests also showed higher levels of pyrene, a polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon or PAH, when smoking the hookah. Similar amounts of the probable human carcinogen acrylamide and the PAH phenanthrene showed up during cigarette or hookah smoking. Exposure to PAHs is linked to cancer and immune problems.
The study indicates that the profile of chemicals that are extracted whe smoking tobacco through a hookah is different than those that come from smoking a cigarette. And it could even be deadlier.
The researchers say that the benzene in the hookah smoke could increase the risk of leukemia, a cancer of the white blood cells.
The hookah also produced much higher levels of carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas produced by the burning charcoal used to light the tobacco.
The bottom line? Hookahs aren’t any safer than cigarette smoking. That could be a problem as about 30 per cent of U.S. university students have smoked a hookah, and most don’t think it’s dangerous.
“Many water-pipe smokers tell me they know cigarettes are dangerous,” hookah researcher Thomas Eissenberg, of Virginia Commonwealth University told Science News. “It’s written on the pack. They say, ‘I haven’t heard anything about water pipe smoking. It must be safe.'”
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