Why You May Want To Use a Hookah
Hookah use is popular among young adults ages 18 to 30 and older, and many of its proponents say it is safer than smoking cigarettes. Keeping that thought in mind, here are some reasons why you may want to use a hookah, also referred to as a water pipe.
You like to inhale lots of nicotine. In a new study appearing in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, 55 men and women (18-48 years) who regularly used a hookah stopped smoking for one week. At the end of the week, they spent an average of 74 minutes smoking hookahs.
Urine samples were taken before they had their smoking session and after the session. Compared with the pre-smoking session, the second urine sample showed an average of 73 times greater levels of nicotine,
You’re sure you won’t get cancer. The hookah smokers in this study had two times greater levels of NNAL, a by product of a chemical in tobacco called NNK. NNAL is associated with pancreatic and lung cancers.
You don’t mind an increased risk of deadly diseases. The study participants also showed levels of benzene and acrolein that were 14 percent and 91 percent higher, respectively. These chemicals are breakdown products of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and are known to cause heart disease, lung disease, and cancer.
You think the less irritating smoke is cool. When you use a hookah, the smoke is cooled by the water in the bowl, which makes it less irritating than cigarette smoke. However, a University of California San Francisco (UCSF) study found that hookah smokers had higher levels of carbon monoxide than did cigarette smokers. This chemical is a significant health risk for anyone who has a heart or respiratory condition.
You like getting more for your money. Hookah smokers are exposed to a variety of different chemicals than they can get from cigarettes because they are smoking more than tobacco. Heating the tobacco mixture used in a hookah produces toxic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) as well as VOCs, all of which are carcinogens. The PAH called naphthalene damages red blood cells while acrylamide, a VOC, helps break down the nervous system.
So before you decide to light up a hookah and smoke a bowl alone or with friends, think again. Why do you want to use a hookah?
Jacob P et al. Comparison of nicotine and carcinogen exposure with water pipe and cigarette smoking. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention 2013 April 15
St. Helen G et al. Nicotine and carcinogen exposure after water pipe smoking in hookah bars. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention 2014 May 16 online. DOI:10.1158/1055-9965
Image: John Picken