Is Smoking Hookah Worse than Smoking Cigarettes

Today’s younger generations in Western culture have eagerly embraced one of the most popular social pastimes in many Middle Eastern cultures, hookah. Created by Hakim Abu’l-Fath Gilani, an Indian physician, in the 16th century, hookah is now a widespread commodity and an enticing pastime.

Interestingly enough, the World Health Organization (WHO) is claiming that smoking hookah, or shisha as it is sometimes referred to,  for an hour is actually the equivalent of smoking 100 cigarettes. Unfortunately, this claim is not supported by science.

Because the health effects of smoking hookah have never been studied in an objective, unbiased way; and since there are various types of hookah that range in different qualities and contents, it is difficult to truly know how the hookah fad is affecting the lungs of the people who smoke it.

Even without the support of science, WHO has come to the conclusion that hookah, in general, is more dangerous than smoking cigarettes. According to Professor Robert West, Director of Tobacco Studies at University College London, it does not matter where the smoke from tobacco comes from, whether it is from cigarettes or from hookah it can cause DNA damage, which can lead to cancer.

“Smoke from tobacco contains a number of carcinogens which damage the DNA in cells,” he claims. “Just one damaged cell can divide and multiply uncontrollably into a large tumor. This is what causes lung cancer.”

The question really is, is smoking hookah the same as smoking cigarettes or does it cause more damage (1 hour of hookah to 100 cigarettes)? With inconclusive evidence it is difficult to assume which case is the most accurate.

The Riordan Clinic does not advocate the smoking of hookah or cigarettes, but feels that it is imperative for the public to know a variety of opinions about what is being said concerning health issues, whether it be artificial sweeteners, processed foods, low-fat diets, pharmaceutical drugs, or toxic chemicals and pesticides. The more informed the public is the easier the journey towards better health.

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