Researchers Discover a Cancer Link to Smoking Hookah

A hookah pipe is a smoking apparatus, often decorative in appearance, containing a chamber for heating tobacco. The smoke is then drawn with a mouth piece through a rubber hose after passing through water. A single smoking session may last as long as one hour. Smokers often visit hookah bars with menus containing flavors such as apple, cherry, lemon, mango, raspberry and others. The bars supply the hookah pipes. Infectious disease may be spread from improperly cleaned pipes at hookah bars.

Cigarette smoking is banned in public buildings within the United States. A large majority of restaurants, hospitals, schools, college campuses and other establishments have banned smoking cigarettes indoors. Due to cigarette bans and education concerning the dangers of tobacco use many citizens have stopped utilizing many tobacco products. Advertisements and sales people have convinced many former cigarette smokers that hookah is less dangerous than cigarettes and other tobacco products. Hookah popularity is on the increase according to the “American Journal of Health Behavior.”

There are several myths surrounding the use of hookah. Hookah users are mistakenly told that hookah contains less nicotine than cigarettes. Smokers are also told that the fruit added to flavor the hookah smoke may be counted as one daily serving of fruit. Many people are led to believe that the water in the bottom of the pipe filters out most of the toxins. Advertisements falsely claim that hookah smoke is less toxic than cigarette smoke.

Researchers from German Jordanian University have proven a link to lung cancer and leukemia from hookah smoke. The study proves that a large amount of heavy metals from the tobacco are not removed by the water in the pipe. The researchers discovered chromium, copper, iron, lead and uranium in the smoke vapors. Approximately 57% of the heavy metals remained in the hookah smoke after water filtering. The location where the tobacco is grown and the type of pipe utilized may alter the findings slightly. According to the CDC, the chemical benzene has been discovered in the burning charcoal in the pipes. Benzene is connected to leukemia. Hookah smokers have an amplified threat for lung cancer, oral cancer and respiratory difficulty.


*Photo courtesy of Hookah Pipe by Tom at Flickr’s Creative Commons.



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