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Smoking Water Pipes Is Not a Safe Cigarette Alternative

Different patterns of exposure to tobacco toxins seen with cigarettes, water pipes

FRIDAY, April 26 (HealthDay News) -- Smoking tobacco in water pipes is associated with a different pattern of carcinogen exposure than smoking cigarettes, according to a study published online March 5 in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

Peyton Jacob III, Ph.D., from the University of California in San Francisco, and colleagues assessed daily nicotine and carcinogen exposure with water pipe and cigarette smoking in 13 people participating in a cross-over study who were experienced in using both products.

The researchers found that smoking an average of three water pipe sessions was comparable to smoking 11 cigarettes per day. There was a significant association between water pipe use and lower intake of nicotine and greater exposure to carbon monoxide. Water pipe use was also associated with a different pattern of carcinogen exposure compared to cigarette smoking, including greater exposure to benzene and high molecular weight polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), but less exposure to tobacco-specific nitrosamines, 1,3-butadiene and acrolein, acrylonitrile, propylene oxide, ethylene oxide, and low molecular weight PAHs.

"A different pattern of carcinogen exposure might result in a different cancer risk profile between cigarette and water pipe smoking," the authors write. "Of particular concern is the risk of leukemia related to high levels of benzene exposure with water pipe use."

One author disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical companies that market smoking cessation products.

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