ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Smoking tobacco through a water pipe, which is also known as smoking hookah, is a common social activity in the Middle East. Hookah, however, is finding a home in the St. Louis area as of recent.
Dr. Robert Swanson, SSM cancer specialist at St. Mary’s Health Center, says hookah is not safer than cigarettes; it’s as dangerous but in a different way.
“Including the amount of smoke that’s inhaled, if you use a hookah for one hour you can get up to 150 times the volume of smoke through your body than you would from one cigarette,” Swanson says. “In addition, although nicotine levels are decreased with this type of smoking, there’s still enough to make this addictive if you do it enough on a regular basis.”
Benzene levels can be increased when using a hookah which, Swanson says, could lead to increased chance of leukemia and other cancers.
“By smoking the hookah you can also have up to two and a half times more carbon-monoxide ingested and that can lead to heart attack and stroke that are non-cancerous conditions that no one would really want,” Swanson says.