Dr. Sunil - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Sunil

Is Hookah Bad For You?

Also Known As: waterpipe, narguile, argilah, hubble-bubble



Short answer

Contrary to popular belief, hookah is not a healthy alternative to cigarettes. Hookah can increase the risk of cancer, heart disease, illness or infection, and fetal issues when used during pregnancy.



Long answer

Hookahs are water pipes used to smoke specially flavored tobacco. Bars have erupted throughout the United States in which groups "pass the hookah pipe" around the circle, all using the same mouthpiece to smoke the tobacco. Hookah is legal but it is not safe or sanitary.

Hookah is commonly considered a healthy alternative to cigarette smoking, but in reality, hookah exposes users to many of the same risks. Risks arise from the chemicals users are exposed to from the charcoal that heats the tobacco in a hookah pipe. Common diseases resulting from hookah use include bladder cancer, oral cancer, lung cancer, and heart disease; effects on infants born to mothers who used hookah regularly during pregnancy include low birth weight and sometimes long-term respiratory problems. Fun fact: a 1-hour long "hookah session" averages around 200 puffs, while a cigarette is around 20.

Aside from these serious diseases, sharing a hookah pipe from one person to the next greatly increases the risk of infections spread through saliva like the common cold, gastrointestinal infections, influenza, and much more.

Recently, shisha has been advertised as a safe, tobacco-free alternative for hookah smoking, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shisha use can expose users to the same harmful chemicals and increase the risk for the same diseases.

Possible short-term side effects

  • increased blood pressure
  • increased heart rate
  • narrowing of arteries
  • light headedness
  • addiction
  • infection/illness from sharing
  • harmful effects on newborn (if pregnant)

Possible long-term side effects

  • lung cancer
  • bladder cancer
  • oral cancer
  • infection/illness from sharing
  • tooth decay

Ingredients to be aware of

  • metals
  • carcinogens
  • carbon monoxide
  • molasses or honey
  • nicotine

Healthier alternatives

  • e-cigs (no long-term research)

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Kathan Natrajan
Published on: 12-28-2015
Last updated: 12-10-2016

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Kathan Natrajan
Published on: 12-28-2015
Last updated: 12-10-2016

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