“Water-pipe” Smoking Unsafe Alternative to Cigarettes

Stop SmokingSmokers trying to find an alternative to cigarettes by switching to “water-pipes” may be putting themselves at a higher risk for heart attack, stroke and even sudden death in people who have lung or cardiovascular disease.

According to a new study, “water-pipe” smoking can expose users to a higher level of toxicants such as carbon monoxide and benzene, which is known to cause leukemia. High levels of carbon monoxide can increase the risks of heart attack, stroke and death, according to a news release from the American Association for Cancer Research.

“People want to know if it is a lesser health risk if they switch from cigarettes to smoking a water pipe on a daily basis,” said Peyton Jacob III, a research chemist at San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center, in the news release. “We found that water-pipe smoking is not a safe alternative to cigarette smoking, nor is it likely to be an effective harm reduction strategy.”

Water-pipe smoking is popular among young people who frequent ‘hookah bars.’

To compare the levels of toxicants caused by water-pipe smoking and smoking cigarettes, Jacob and his colleagues collected blood and urine samples from 13 health volunteers. All of them had experienced both types of smoking.

Although people who smoked from a water-pipe had about half the nicotine in their blood compared to when they smoked cigarettes, they also had 2.5 times higher levels of carbon monoxide in their breath and double the amount of benzene in their urine.

The study was published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

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