Here's why hookah isn't a lesser evil than cigarette

Do not consider hookah as a healthier alternative to cigarettes. It's a myth. © Shutterstock.

While new research suggests that smoking hookah increases your risk of heart attack and stroke, we tell you how it is as bad as smoking a cigarette, if not worse.

Smoking tobacco through a hookah has been a popular in the Indian and Persian cultures through ages. This device allows you to smoke tobacco through a water pipe and the tobacco mostly used in hookah comes in flavours like apple, paanras, coconut, chocolate, watermelon, mint, etc. Now, smoking hookah has become a fashion statement among the younger generation. Also, it is often claimed to be a safer alternative to cigarette smoking. However, scientific evidence undercuts this claim.

According to the findings of a study published in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, hookah smoking is equally or more unhealthy than having regular cigarettes. The research also found that tobacco smoke emitted by hookah led to blood clot within 11 seconds, which is way faster than the average of time of 5 minutes when your blood isn't exposed to hookah smoke. This increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. Here is a low-down on the top health risks of smoking hookah

Hookah vs. Cigarettes

The average nicotine content of a cigarette ranges between 7 and 22 milligrams, depending on the brand. One absorbs around 1 mg of nicotine while smoking a cigarette. However, a pack of flavoured tobacco used in hookah contains as much of this addictive drug as a pack of 20 cigarettes. So, both are addictive. An average hookah session lasts for 30-60 minutes where the smoker takes about 200 puffs and takes in 90,000 ml of smoke. But the number of puffs is not more than 20 and the smoke inhaled is between 500-600 ml in case of a cigarette.

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Hookah smokes exposes you to six times more carbon monoxide and 46 times more tar, when compared to cigarette smoke. The drag required for a hookah pipe is stronger and longer as the process involves inhalation through water. Some schools of thought claim that hookah is less harmful because the water filters the smoke. However, that is not the case. According to an online study featured in the journal Aerosol Science and Technology, the filtration was negligible. Moreover, the process of puffing on hookah involves burning charcoal. So, you are exposed to the toxins released by both tobacco and charcoal smoke.

Top health concerns of smoking hookah

Studies suggest that the smoke emitted by your hookah pipe contains toxic benzene, which has been linked to an increased risk factor for blood cancer. Like cigarettes, hookah also takes a toll on your lungs and heart. It elevates your chances of getting oral cancer as well.

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