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Shisha increases lung cancer risk.

Shisha smoking, also known as hookah smoking, is the use of tobacco sweetened with fruit or molasses, which makes the smoke more aromatic than cigarette's. Coal or charcoal is burnt in the shisha pipe to heat the tobacco and produce smoke. Because the fruity sugar syrup or molasses makes the tobacco smoke dull, the smoke is cooled in water so it feel less harsh. As a result people inhale the smoke deeply, increasing the risk further.

Shisha smoking is a growing concern because people aren't aware of its risks, unlike the risks of cigarettes. According to a study published in the 2012 issue of the CDC's Preventing Chronic Diseases journal, many shisha smokers believe hookah carries fewer risks than cigarette smoking.

One of the reasons for its increasing popularity is the widespread misconception that it is a safer alternative to cigarette and cigar smoking, as the smoke passes through water, filtering out the harmful ingredients. Unlike cigarette smokers, shisha users are not well informed on its damaging effects. Little research has been done on tobacco smoking using a water pipe, its prevention and cessation.

The WHO has warned that a one-hour shisha session can be as harmful as smoking 100 cigarettes. A cigarette smoker typically takes between 15 to 20 puffs, inhaling 0.5 to 0.6 litres of smoke. During an hour-long shisha session smokers may take up to 200 drags, ranging from 0.5 to one litre of smoke each. The volume of smoke inhaled during a typical shisha session is about 90,000ml compared with 500 to 600ml inhaled when smoking a cigarette.

When you smoke shisha, you and anyone sitting near you are breathing in smoke that releases toxins, including carbon monoxide and heavy metals - reducing your body's ability to carry oxygen around your blood.

Smoke from tobacco contains carcinogens that damage the DNA in cells; just one damaged cell can divide and multiply uncontrollably and quickly develop into a large tumour. This is what causes lung cancer. There is a high risk not only for cigarette smokers but also shisha smokers of suffering from cancer, particularly of the lips, tongue, throat and lungs, as well as cardiovascular diseases.

According to a study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, biomarkers and prevention, just one session of hookah smoking could make nicotine urine levels spike by more than 70 times, increasing cancer-causing agents.

Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, examined the urine of 55 healthy water pipe smokers. Participants were asked to abstain from any smoking for a week, after which they submitted urine samples. They then went to any hookah bar for an evening, then they provided urine samples. They also gave urine samples from the morning after the shisha session.

On average each participant used 0.6 bowls of water pipe tobacco and spent 74 minutes smoking. Upon analysis of the urine after smoking the hookah, compared with before, urine levels of nicotine increased 73-fold, while levels of cotinine (the metabolite of nicotine) increased four-fold. In addition, levels of breakdown chemicals known to cause cancer increased in the urine, including NNL (only found in tobacco), two-fold, while the breakdown products of volatile organic compounds increased to 14 per cent.

According to chemists at San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center, high levels of benzene carbon monoxide were detected in shisha smokers. Benzene increases the risk of developing leukemia, while carbon monoxide is dangerous, especially to people with heart and respiratory conditions. Heat causes a chemical reaction producing toxic volatile organic compounds and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are highly carcinogenic and can cause lung cancer.
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Publication:The Star (Nairobi, Kenya)
Date:Jan 19, 2018
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