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Water-pipe smoking may not be a safe alternative to cigarette smoking
Date:4/19/2013

in the blood during a 24-hour period compared with cigarette smoking. However, exposure to nicotine, albeit at lower levels, can sustain addiction, according to Jacob. On the other hand, the researchers found that while smoking a water pipe, the total amount of carbon monoxide in the breath measured during a 24-hour period was more than 2.5 times higher than while smoking cigarettes. Jacob explained that high carbon monoxide exposure increases the risk for acute events such as a heart attack, stroke or sudden death in people who have cardiovascular or lung diseases.

In addition, the data indicated that exposure to benzene, a volatile organic compound, was considerably higher while smoking a water pipe: The researchers detected twice the amount of a metabolite of benzene in the urine of water-pipe smokers compared with that of cigarette smokers. Jacob warned that benzene exposure is a concern because it is known to cause leukemia in humans.

"People want to know if it is a lesser health risk if they switch from cigarettes to smoking a water pipe on a daily basis," said Jacob. "We found that water-pipe smoking is not a safe alternative to cigarette smoking, nor is it likely to be an effective harm reduction strategy."

The researchers acknowledge that while sharing water pipes in social settings, the exposure to toxic agents may be lesser, and they are conducting further research to ascertain this.


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Contact: Jeremy Moore
jeremy.moore@aacr.org
215-446-7109
American Association for Cancer Research
Source:Eurekalert

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