Hookah is a single or multi-stemmed instrument for vaporising and smoking flavoured tobacco sometimes cannabis or opium. Since the water used in the pipe can absorb nicotine, hookah has been presumed to be safe gaining notoriety among the younger generations. But, if you are taken by the misconstrued notion that hookah maybe safer then cigarettes then think again!
A new study had emerged to debunk the ‘hookah-safety’ myth and it has some serious alarming news. A research conducted by the University of Los Angeles (UCLA) in the US stated that smoking hookahs are more harmful than traditional cigarettes. The scientists conducting the study found that puffing a water pipe for just half an hour can lead to the development of cardiovascular risk factors. This study came in the view at a time when the market sector claimed that smoking hookah is less hazardous to health than cigarettes.
The researchers studied 48 healthy, young hookah smokers before and after smoking 30 minutes of smoking. They then measured heart rate, blood pressure, arterial stiffness, blood nicotine and exhaled carbon monoxide levels and the result showed that a single session of hookah smoking increased heart rate (by 16 beats per minute) and blood pressure; and significantly increased measures of arterial stiffness, a key risk factor in the development of cardiovascular conditions such as heart attack or stroke.
The increase in arterial stiffness was comparable to data seen from cigarette smokers after smoking a cigarette.
"Our findings challenge the concept that fruit-flavoured hookah tobacco smoking is a healthier tobacco alternative. It is not," said Mary Rezk-Hanna, an assistant professor at the UCLA.
With the common misconception and marketing efforts, hookah smoking has been increasing at a rapid pace, especially among youth and particularly among college students.
"One of the major issues with hookah is the fact that the tobacco is flavoured with fruit, candy and alcohol flavours, making hookah the most popular flavoured tobacco product among this audience," she said.
Results of the study are particularly concerning because it measured what appears to be the lower limit of hookah use (half an hour), but in most cases lasts for several hours increasing the levels of nicotine and other toxins, the researchers said.
Stiffening of arteries and the aorta are important signs of the progression of hypertension, which raises the risk of heart attacks, stroke and other cardiovascular disorders.
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This health case has even opened the bigger door of nicotine-usage such as smokeless tobacco, e-cigarettes which have also shown to produce similar rates of arterial stiffening as seen in this hookah use study.
Hookah smoking, despite its alarming health concerns, remains more popular due to marketing efforts as well as social trends.