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Hookah Smoking More Cancerous Than Cigarettes, Says DAK

Srinagar: Dispelling the misconception of hookah being safer option for smoking, Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Wednesday said it’s (hookah) smoke has higher cancerous potential than cigarette smoke.

President of DAK Dr. Nisar ul Hassan in a statement here said hookah smoke contains higher levels of cancer-causing chemicals than cigarette smoke thus increasing the cancer risk by several fold.

Known as “Jajeer”, hookah is a water pipe that has since the olden times been the major form of smoking in Kashmir. The tobacco smoke of Jajeer contains several toxic agents known to cause lung, bladder, oral, stomach and food-pipe cancer.

The charcoal used to heat the tobacco produces high levels of carbon monoxide, metals and cancer-causing chemicals.

He said according to a study conducted at S.K. Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS), Jajeer smokers were six times more likely to have associated lung cancer.

In another study, published in “Cancer Epidemiology,” it was found that hookah smokers breathe in benzene, a substance linked to increased risk of leukemia (blood cancer).

Dr Hassan said hookah smoking does not only affect the users but also people around them. Second-hand smokers are also at increased risk of cancer, heart and lung disease as well as adverse effects during pregnancy. Compared with a single cigarette, one hookah session releases 125 times the smoke, 25 times the tar, 2.5 times the nicotine and 10 times the carbon monoxide.

He said according to “WHO”, a water pipe tobacco smoking session delivers 20 times the smoke volume of a single cigarette. Hookah smoker inhales as much smoke during one session as a cigarette smoker would inhale consuming 100 or more cigarettes.

“In addition, hookah smoke contains higher levels of arsenic, lead and nickel in comparison to smoke from a cigarette,” he warned.