Hookah: Healthy Or Hazardous?
Ever seen a hookah bar? Chances are you’ve seen one, as they are popping up in all major cities as the “safe” thing to do instead of smoke. Hookah has all sorts of flavors that people “smoke” through a tube, usually with wine and food. But is smoking steam from hookah really safe?
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Also known as narghile, shisha and goza, 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. 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 cancer, heart disease and other serious illnesses.
- One hour of hookah is equivalent to inhaling 200 cigarettes
- Tobacco juices from hookahs irritate the mouth and increase the risk of developing oral cancers.