They have been common throughout the Middle East for decades. But hookahs, a flavored tobacco product, are only now spreading across America and worrying health officials.
A main reason for the popularity of hookahs, especially among young people, is that the flavored tobacco product is easier to inhale than cigarettes, pipes and cigars, reports the Los Angeles Times.
The tobacco, which comes in such flavors as apple, watermelon, mint, rose and grape, is placed inside the bowl of a pipe, known as a hookah. The hookah is then heated by coals placed on a foil covering. According to the New York Times, when an individual inhales from a tube attached on the pipe, the smoke is drawn to bottom of the pipe, where it is filtered by water.
Despite a common belief among users that hookah smoke is safer than cigarette smoke because it is water-filled, researcher Alan Shinadeh of the American University of Beirut says in Newsweek that the tobacco used in hookahs, called sheesha, contains 100 times more lead than cigarettes have. Other experts worry that hookah smoking increases an individual's risk of developing cancer.
For more information on hookahs, visit http://www.cancer.org
Jennie Breads. Senior Jennifer Breads is the Managing Health Editor for this year. Aside from writing lots of health stories, Jennifer enjoys playing soccer and lacrosse and she is excited to be part of the Silver Chips team! More »