Hookah Smoke Increases Benzene Levels, Is No Safer than Tobacco Smoking

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It is commonly believed that hookah smoke is a far safer version of smoke because of the way in which hookah is filtered (ie, through water before inhalation).

However, according to research recently publishing in the journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, and Prevention, people who smoke hookah and people who are exposed to hookah smoke (such as individuals who are around hookah smokers at lounges and social events) had a signficiantly increased amount of benzene, which is a chemical substance that is associated with leukemia risk.

Nada Kassem, associate director of the Center for Behavioral Epidemiology and Community Health at San Diego State University, was the lead researcher of the study and stated that this study is clear evidence that the belief that hookah smoke is not harmful is simply untrue.

In their research Kassem et al analyzed the urine of 105 hookah smokers and 103 nonsmokers to seek the levels of S-phenylmercapturic acid (SPMA), a metabolite on benzene. Researchers found that the level of SPMA was elevated by four times in hookah smokers and two times by nonsmokers who attended an event in a hookah lounge.

Nassem and colleagues state that their research reveals that hookah smoke is no safer than any other form of tobacco smoking and regulations should take this into account. 

Hookah Smoke Increases Benzene Levels, Is No Safer than Tobacco Smoking
People who smoke hookah had a signficiantly increased amount of benzene and leukemia risk.
Hookah smokers, as well as nonsmokers exposed to hookah smoke at social events in hookah lounges, showed a significant increase in uptake of benzene, a chemical substance associated with an increased risk for leukemia, according to a study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Some people believe that because hookah smoke is filtered through water before being inhaled, it's somehow safer than smoking cigarettes or other forms of tobacco. But that's simply not the case, according to Nada Kassem, associate director at the Center for Behavioral Epidemiology and Community Health at San Diego State University.

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