A recent ongoing study has convinced researchers that a chemical in hookah smoke, both firsthand and secondhand, is linked to cancer, and has been found to contain benzene, according to KBPS.org.
A San Diego State University (SDSU) study, funded by the American Cancer Society, has found evidence that burning hookah tobacco creates a chemical that researchers believe causes lung cancer and heart disease. Benzene, which is a known cause of leukemia, was also found in the byproduct.
During the study, 3-HPMA (a metabolite of acrolein) was detected in the urine samples of 105 hookah smokers and 103 non-smokers who were exposed to secondhand hookah smoke at an indoor event. The samples were taken the morning of and the morning after the exclusive hookah-smoking event.
SDSU Center for Behavioral Epidemiology and Community Health researchers discovered 3-HPMA levels significantly higher following the event.
“We found that after spending an average of three hours at a hookah party, the levels of 3-HPMA in urine increased by an average of nearly 1.5 times in both those smoking hookah and those simply attending the event without smoking hookah,” said lead study author Nada Kassem.
“The acrolein levels were even higher in people who smoked hookah on a daily basis,” said Kassem. “They had acrolein levels four times higher than those found in a representative sample of non-tobacco users in the United States.”
Kassem is also the lead author of a study published three years ago concluding that daily hookah smoke exposure created elevated levels of benzene in people exposed.
According to the American Cancer Society’s website, benzene is known to cause cancer, particularly leukemia and other blood-related cancers. It is also a cause of Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) and lymphomas.
Kassem’s findings have landed her a $1.4 million grant to continue research more about the dangers of hookah smoke. The grant was awarded by the National Institutes of Health.