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Dr. Edwards' Blog

Hidden Dangers In New Social Trend

Medical research shows hookah smoking is not safer than cigarette smoking, and experts fear too many young people try this trendy new social activity and don't realize its dangers.

Also known as narghile, shisha and goza, a hookah is a water pipe with a smoke chamber, a bowl, a pipe and a hose. Specially made tobacco is heated, and the smoke passes through water and is then drawn through a rubber hose to a mouthpiece.

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic say the tobacco is no less toxic in a hookah pipe, and the water in the hookah does not filter out the toxic ingredients in the tobacco smoke.   Hookah smokers may actually inhale more tobacco smoke than cigarette smokers do because of the large volume of smoke they inhale in one smoking session, which can last as long as 60 minutes.

While research about hookah smoking is still emerging, evidence shows that it poses many dangers:

  • Hookah smoke contains high levels of toxic compounds, including tar, carbon monoxide, heavy metals and cancer-causing chemicals (carcinogens). In fact, hookah smokers are exposed to more carbon monoxide and smoke than are cigarette smokers.
  • As with cigarette smoking, hookah smoking is linked to lung and oral cancers, heart disease, and other serious illnesses.
  • Hookah smoking delivers about the same amount of nicotine as cigarette smoking, possibly leading to tobacco dependence.
  • Hookah smoke poses dangers associated with secondhand smoke.

A 16th century physician in India invented the hookah and claimed passing  the tobacco through water would render it harmless. 

Hookah smoking is no longer just happening in the Middle East, India, Egypt and Turkey.  It's becoming more popular here in the United States.  Hookah smoking primarily appeals to young adults between the ages of 18 to 24.  It's estimated that 10% to 20% of U.S. college students use hookah either in bars, lounges, or at home.  In 2011, approximately 19% of  U.S. 12th-grade students had used a hookah in the past year.

As more hookah lounges and electronic vapor (evapor) stores begin to open up, medical experts fear too many young people will be enticed by the popularity of this trend and ignore the warnings that hookah smoking is just as dangerous as smoking a cigarette. 




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