Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Ordinary or flavoured hookah is a major risk of toxic carbonyls that can cause a variety of cancers including leukemia.

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad:  Ordinary or flavoured hookah is a major risk of
toxic carbonyls that can cause a variety of cancers including
leukemia. The content of harmful chemicals in the hookah smoke is five
times higher than in a cigarette.

Researchers have now found in hookah smoke high quantities of
carbonylic compounds like formaldehyde, acetaldehyde and acrolein,
which have been declared either known carcinogenic or probable
carcinogenic by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a WHO
body. Formaldehyde is a preservative and used in mortuaries and
medical laboratories to keep human specimen in good condition.

The number of hookah parlours or waterpipe smoking centres has gone up
in Hyderabad causing concern to health experts. The hookah smoke
causes more harm in youngsters than in adults. A study by the
department of product safety, German Federal Institute for Risk
Assessment, has identified and quantified seven such carbonylic
compounds.

The researchers used a smoking machine to draw out the carbonyls
present in the hookah smoke. The results were startling. In one
waterpipe smoking session, up to 111 micro grams of formaldehyde was
detected. This value is about 5 times higher when compared to one
cigarette.

“Considerable amounts of toxic carbonyls are present in the waterpipe
smoke. It poses a health risk to waterpipe smokers,” said lead
researcher Dr Jens Schubert. The water used in the hookah helps in
reduction of carbonyl content, but even this smoke with reduced
content of toxic chemicals is dangerous to human health.

The high content of formaldehyde is a potential threat for
nasopharyngeal cancer and leukemia. Incidentally, it is used in
industries to kill fungi and germs and to keep the area free of
harmful bacteria. Acetaldehyde too is linked to cancers and is a known
irritant to eyes, skin and respiratory tract. Acrolein, a strong
irritant in human beings, is also sprayed to kill unwanted plant
growth in water bodies.

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