While many might really enjoy believing that hookah is much better than smoking cigarettes because it’s water filtered, science says otherwise — hookah is so much worse for us than we all thought.
The findings of a new meta-analysis have been printed in the latest journal “Public Health Reports.” A team of researchers from the University of Pittsburgh reviewed 542 scientific articles related to cigarettes and smoking hookah, taking data from 17 of those articles to develop accurate and comparable estimates of the toxins humans inhale when they smoke.
The team found that one hookah session, considered to last around 40-45 minutes, according to the American Lung Association, compared to one cigarette gives smokers:
— 125 times the smoke
— 25 times the tar
— 10 times the carbon monoxide
— 2.5 times the nicotine
The lead author of the study, Brian A. Primack, M.D., Ph.D., explained:
“Our results show that hookah tobacco smoking poses real health concerns and that it should be monitored more closely than it is currently. For example, hookah smoking was not included in the 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey System questionnaire, which assesses cigarette smoking, chewing tobacco, electronic cigarettes and many other forms of substance abuse.”
Dr. Primack also notes that the comparisons are as accurate as available, but not perfect.
“It’s not a perfect comparison because people smoke cigarettes and hookahs in very different ways. We had to conduct the analysis this way — comparing a single hookah session to a single cigarette — because that’s the way the underlying studies tend to report findings. So, the estimates we found cannot tell us exactly what is ‘worse.’ But what they do suggest is that hookah smokers are exposed to a lot more toxicants than they probably realize. After we have more fine-grained data about usage frequencies and patterns, we will be able to combine those data with these findings and get a better sense of relative overall toxicant load.”