Hookah is bad? See impacts on adult and baby health

Although there was a time when advertisements about tobacco consumption were allowed, today we know very well about all the ills of smoking.

We understand that smoking is very harmful to health and even on the labels there are risks. However, with the hookah – which is as bad as the cigarette – this type of warning is not so common yet.

Because it is not so well known, due to a lack of information and legislation and misleading advertising, smoking is often considered a less harmful option.

However, there are studies that show that this is not the case. According to reports by the World Health Organization (WHO), consumption can cause many long-term complications and even addiction.

In the following text we explain why hookah is so bad. Continue reading to understand more about the topic!

What is the hookah and what is the origin?

The hookah, also known as an arguile, shisha or hookah, is a smoke of Indian origin, but used by indigenous tribes in Africa and Asia for at least four centuries or more.

However, despite being an ancient tradition in the East, it became globalized only in the 1990s. Since then it has been quite popular, especially among young people.

It is a device made up of a water vessel, a tobacco holder, a hose and a nozzle.

This hose, which can be made of plastic or leather, leaves the top of the water vessel and ends at the mouthpiece, where the smoker inhales the smoke. On top of the bowl, the coal is placed so that it can be lit.

Simply put, it works as a kind of water-based pipe, used for flavored tobacco smoke (mint, vanilla, chocolate, etc.).

The hookah is often used as an alternative to cigarettes, being very common in conversation circles and parties.

People gather to smoke as an event, and it is possible to find establishments specializing in sale and consumption.

Hookah pen or electronic: is it the same?

-Yeah . Electronic hookahs (or pens) are similar to electronic cigarettes, only in smaller, portable versions.

Many of these devices are free of substances such as carbon monoxide, heavy metals and other toxins, as they are not used with coal. However, nicotine is also present.

Despite being considered less risky to health, it also contains substances that are harmful and can generate some dependency if used frequently.

As in the case of the traditional hookah, studies are also lacking to assess all the risks of the electronic hookah.

Why is the hookah bad for your health?

According to the Ministry of Health, despite the fact that nicotine undergoes this filtration in water, this does not make it any less harmful. The person usually repeats the smoke in deeper puffs to obtain satisfactory amounts of nicotine and, consequently, ends up inhaling other toxic substances.

Among these substances, in addition to tobacco, there are also the toxins benzene and tar, present in coal.

Both smoke from coal and tobacco are harmful. Even the flavorings present can have negative health effects.

For comparison, a report released by the WHO also reported that a 1-hour round of hookah can have the same effect as smoking 100 cigarettes .

According to the pneumopediatrician Debora Carla Chong e Silva, it is important to note that the hookah is a vapor that has tobacco and substances similar to those of cigarettes.

It is a paste of tobacco mixed with flavoring, but it has the same potential (or even greater) of harm, since the cigarette is smoked quickly and the hookah is smoked for hours.

“ The most important thing, what we need to reinforce, is that the big consumer of the hookah is the young person. And that there is a consensus that it is harmless, which needs to be demystified ”, explains the doctor.

Carcinogenic substances: can hookah cause disease?

According to the WHO and the research carried out with the hookah, it was observed the presence of many toxic substances and some of them considered carcinogens. These include polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), nitrosamines (present in tobacco), heavy metals, benzene, nitric oxide, carbon monoxide, volatile aldehydes, etc.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC, English International Agency for Research on Cancer ) considers many of these products as human carcinogens.

In 2014, the agency reported that there is a greater risk of the development of leukemia by assimilation of benzene in people exposed to hookah smoke.

Despite the reported risks and the warnings made by the institutions, it is not known for sure how much these substances are actually absorbed by the hookah smoker.

Therefore, further studies are important to confirm all risks.

What are the risks to the lung?

The substances present in the hookah, as well as those present in the cigarette, are generally harmful to the health of the organism. These toxins, in high concentration, cause damage to various systems and tissues.

For the lungs and respiratory system as a whole, however, the risk may be even greater.

Smoking can increase the risk of lung infections and inflammation, in addition to generating an accelerated loss of lung capacity.

Does it hurt your stomach?

Yes , the hookah can be bad for your stomach health in the long run, as well as it can harm the body in general.

In these cases, the risks are associated with a greater chance of developing cancer, since the hookah has carcinogenic substances such as benzene. It is, therefore, a risk factor for this and other diseases.

Is a hookah as bad as a cigarette?

-Yeah . Smoking hookah represents a health risk as well as smoking, and it can be equal or even more harmful than smoking.

As the doctor Debora Carla Chong e Silva explains, the smoke from the hookah is comparable to that of the cigarette.

They are similar in many ways, however, the hookah can even have higher concentrations of harmful substances such as nicotine, carbon monoxide, heavy metals and so many other toxins.

All of this makes the hookah a major health threat.

So both have several toxic substances that are harmful to the body and increase the chances of serious health complications, such as respiratory diseases, cancer (lung, mouth, bladder, etc.) and cardiovascular diseases.

“ In the long run, the risks would be the same and perhaps even greater, for these reasons. Furthermore, the hookah is thought to be harmless and is not. So you smoke more and buy more. To think that smoking for ‘only 1 hour per weekend’ is not bad, as this 1 hour is like the equivalent of more than three cigarette bags for a weekend, which is a lot ”explains pulmonologist.

What are the risks of smoking hookah?

The hookah is bad for exposing the user to a series of toxic substances, so it can cause various risks to people, in the short and long term.

In addition to what the WHO says, there are other studies that point to the risks of smoking.

A survey of mice by academics in the dentistry course at the University of Vale do Itajaí (Univali), for example, found that hookah smoke may be related to a greater risk of inflammation, respiratory diseases and changes in the thickening of the skin on the tongue. .

In the trachea, changes in the skin were observed with signs of metaplasia (when a cell is replaced by another type of cell), which are common in cigarette smokers.

Other effects that hookah use can have on health involve damage to the respiratory and cardiovascular systems, problems with teeth, throat and mouth, in addition to a greater risk of developing some type of cancer.

Risks of use even without downing

In addition to being a risk factor for many diseases (such as cancer), there are other risks due to the way the hookah is used, as explained by doctor Debora Carla Chong e Silva.

“ Another thing is that, in addition to all the aforementioned harms, the hookah also brings up the issue of sharing the cigarette holder among several people, with the potential to transmit diseases and viruses (such as mononucleosis). The liquid that remains there bubbling for hours is also frequently contaminated, and it is not sterile or free of bacteria, ”he explains.

That is, in addition to all the risks that the hookah can cause because it is a smoke with several harmful substances, there is also the possibility of transmission of diseases and infections.

May cause addiction

Anyone who thinks that only cigarettes can cause addiction is mistaken. The consumption of the hookah can also trigger an addiction.

The presence of nicotine in hookah smoke can be in even higher concentrations than cigarettes.

Therefore, it is also possible that it is difficult to stop consuming, especially when the person smokes every day and for a very long time, which – fortunately – is not common.

This is because, if we think about it, it is not so practical.

Unlike a cigarette, which fits in your pocket and can be taken anywhere, the hookah is heavy, full of pieces, requires water and charcoal, for example.

“ In our culture, hookah smoke is very rare every day. We smoke in social conditions and that is how it is linked to our culture, which is one of the factors that interfere in the amount of few studies to prove whether it is really addictive ”, adds the pulmonologist.

Thus, the hookah is considered to be a smoke with the potential to generate dependence when used with a certain regularity, due to the presence of nicotine.

It is the same potential in ordinary cigarettes and electronic cigarettes, as both have the same substance.

Can you smoke hookah during pregnancy?

Smoking is not a healthy practice for anyone, but during pregnancy it is even more contraindicated. In addition to harming the body of the pregnant woman, because it contains numerous harmful substances, it can also cause harm to the baby in the long run. It is a warning that applies to both smoking and hookah.

However, there are still few studies showing the risks of the hookah to the fetus during pregnancy.

This is common especially in Brazil, in which this type of smoke is often seen as harmless, as explained by doctor Debora Carla Chong e Silva.

“ I have studied smoking a lot during pregnancy and it is observed that the practice is violently aggressive to the lungs of the fetus. It is a research done with the common cigarette that we can extrapolate to the hookah, due to the lack of studies with this smoke ”, he explains.

The study was completed after monitoring people who had smoking mothers during pregnancy.

The research looked at their health throughout their lives, but when they reached the age of 50, it was possible to observe an accelerated loss of lung function.

In addition to having this impairment in lung capacity, the study found that children with smoking mothers also have a higher risk of wheezing, infections and lung diseases.

Because they have very similar substances, the doctor understands that it is possible to make this parallel between the cigarette and the hookah during pregnancy.

“ Smoking is extremely harmful to the child’s lungs and is long term. If you use the hookah during pregnancy frequently, we can understand that there is also the same risk of pulmonary consequences ”, he adds.

Therefore, hookah smoking is actually harmful during pregnancy and can cause serious health problems for both mother and baby.

Read more: Smoking in pregnancy increases the risk of sudden death of the baby


Because it is more socially accepted, because it is a common consumption at events, in cafes, restaurants and due to the lack of regulation and inspection policies, the hookah is considered by many to be a more harmless type of smoke.

However, the use is as harmful as the consumption of cigarettes.

The long-term health risks are just as serious and may increase the risks of cancer, respiratory diseases and infectious diseases.0

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