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What affects you more- Hookah or cigarettes?

A Libyan man smokes shisha, or a water pipe, along the coast of the Sea of Benghazi June 6, 2011. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem (LIBYA - Tags: SOCIETY)
A Libyan man smokes shisha, or a water pipe, along the coast of the Sea of Benghazi June 6, 2011. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem (LIBYA - Tags: SOCIETY)

New Delhi: You might have thought Sisha or Hookah smoking is safer than cigarettes, but that’s not true.

Research, provided by Dr. Vivek Nangia, Director and Head of Pulmonology Department of Fortis Flt. Lt. Rajan Dhall Hospital in the national capital, shows that it is actually several times more dangerous than smoking cigarettes.

It is presumed that the water absorbs the toxins from the smoke rendering it safe for the smoker. On the contrary, the smoke that emerges from the water bowl has several toxicants known to cause lung cancer, heart diseases and other diseases.

In fact, a shisha smoking session may expose the smoker to more smoke than over a longer period of time than cigarette thus increasing the hazards by many folds. Cigarettes smokers typically smoke a cigarette for five to seven minutes taking eight to twelve puffs of 40 – 75 ml each.

In total contrast, shisha smoking session lasts 30-80 minutes or even longer and a smoker inhales almost a litre of smoke which is equivalent to 100 or more cigarettes in one session.

This smoke contains high levels of toxic compounds, including tar, carbon monoxide, heavy metals and cancer-causing chemicals (carcinogens). It contains the same amount of nicotine as cigarette smoking, possibly leading to tobacco dependence.

The hazards caused are listed below.

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

2. The tobacco and smoke contain several toxic agents known to cause lung, bladder, and oral cancers.

3. Tobacco juices irritate the mouth and can cause oral cancers

4. It can clog the arteries and result in heart attacks

5. Babies born to women who smoked shisha during pregnancy are known to have a lower birth weight and increased risks of respiratory diseases in their childhood.

6. The other diseases that can result from shisha smoking are Stomach cancer, Cancer of the esophagus (food pipe), Reduced lung function and Decreased fertility

7. Secondhand smoke inhaled by the bystanders is equally harmful.

8. Some sweetened and flavored nontobacco products are also used for smoking. However although they do not contain tobacco but the smoke from both preparations contain carbon monoxide and other toxic agents known to increase the risks for smoking-related cancers, heart disease, and lung disease.

9. Shisha is commonly used in groups, with the same mouthpiece passed from person to person, which may not even be cleaned properly. Thus risking the transmission of infectious diseases like tuberculosis, aspergillus (a fungus that can cause serious lung infections), several viral infections, helicobacter infection (which can cause stomach ulcers) and even meningitis.

Here’s how you can quit sisha.

1. A right attitude is very important. The will power to quit is quintessential

2. Balanced Nutritious Diet is essential to keep a steady supply of energy. Green vegetables like broccoli, spinach that have high magnesium content have a relaxing effect on the body. Dairy products like Milk, eggs are high in tryptophan, a compound which help in the production of serotonin, which in turn is known to induce a calming effect and can help fight depression. Vitamin C rich fruits like Oranges, guava, mangoes, pineapple, papaya and bananas also help in converting tryptophan into serotonin.

3. Regular Physical exercise is very important. It stimulates the brain to produce certain endorphins, which give pleasure and a sense of well-being. It reduces stress, increases stamina, improves health, improves attitude and disposition, improves sleep, and increases self-esteem and sense of accomplishment. One can involve oneself in sports or household chores to remain active. Yoga, meditation are equally effective

4. Join a support group with similar smoking concerns. It is usually helpful in providing useful tips to quit smoking shisha. Sharing personal experiences and setting examples is a good way. Online forums, tele-counseling are other alternatives.

5. Avoid triggers of smoking: don’t avoid going to parties where shisha is served but avoid friends who smoke. Make an excuse to move out of the group standing around shisha. If smoking shisha to relieve stress then how about trying relaxing massage or maybe a hot shower? A short walk or developing a new hobby could help. (ANI)

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