Sheesha smoking far worse than cigarettes

Smoking sheesha is far more dangerous than lighting up a cigarette after a study revealed higher levels of cancer-causing chemicals and poisonous gases in the blood stream of users.

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By  Stuart Qualtrough Published  July 6, 2005

Smoking sheesha is far more dangerous than lighting up a cigarette after a study revealed higher levels of cancer-causing chemicals and poisonous gases in the blood stream of users. The concentration of carcinogenic and addictive substances in tobacco blends smoked in water-pipes can be up to four times higher than those found in cigarettes. Common for centuries in the Arabian Peninsula, Turkey, India, Pakistan and some regions of China, water-pipe smoking had been in decline in the past century and principally become a habit of older men in bazaar cafes. But a report published this week in the medical journal, Pediatrics, cited an upsurge in sheesha smoking in recent years with an estimated total of 100 million people globally smoking a water-pipe on any given day. The tobacco used in sheesha pipes comes in three forms: maasel contains tobacco mixed with honey or molasses, tumbak or ajami is pure tobacco paste, and jurak usually contains fruits or oils. Carbon monoxide concentrations found in the bloodstreams of water-pipe smokers has been found to be quadruple the levels in cigarette smokers, the report said. The nicotine content in water-pipe tobacco also tends to be higher than that found in cigarettes. Other studies have shown lung and bladder cancer rates are higher among water-pipe smokers than among non-smokers, and they are also at risk from pulmonary disease and other types of malignancies. A study of Egyptian couples found an association between water-pipe smoking and infertility, it said. Water-pipe smoking is believed to have originated in India and although it is relatively inexpensive, many believe it lacks the unhealthy stigma sometimes associated with cigarettes, thinking wrongly that the water-cooled smoke has fewer unhealthy ingredients. The report urged health authorities to monitor the incidence of water-pipe smoking and regulate the content of the substances smoked. It also suggested providing disposable nozzles to lessen the spread of infections.

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