Hold the Hookah: Researcher Warns Against Trendy Tobacco Use

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Danger of smoking tobacco through a waterpipe

The growing fad of smoking tobacco through a waterpipe, sometimes known as a hookah, is rapidly turning into a worrisome epidemic, according to a Georgetown University researcher who says smokers who think this form of tobacco use is less toxic than cigarettes are wrong.

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"People who use these devices don't realize that they could be inhaling what is believed to be the equivalent of a pack of cigarettes in one typical 30-60 minute session with a waterpipe, because such a large quantity of pure, shredded tobacco is used," said Christopher Loffredo, Ph.D., Director of the Cancer Genetics and Epidemiology program at Georgetown University Medical Center.

His series of recently published studies documents the trend toward waterpipe tobacco smoking, showing how it has swept through the Middle East and is gaining popularity in the West, and demonstrates that the amount of cellular chromosomal damage produced inside the mouth is the same as that seen in cigarette smoking.

Yet waterpipe cafes or bars have been popping up all over the Eastern Mediterranean region over the past decade, Loffredo said. "In Egypt, we have

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