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Riyadh Community
Sheesha Smokers: Beware! (Hukka)
Research by Eng. Iqbal A. Khan

Sheesha is a water pipe widely used in Saudi Arabia to smoke jurak or moasel-a tobacco-fruit mixture cooked to produce a dark-colored paste.  The mixture is burnt by an electrical device or more commonly by charcoal.  The produced smoke passes through water at the base of the sheesha and a long tube before it is inhaled.
Many people consider sheesha t be less harmful than smoking cigarettes.  But according to a study conducted at King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah, sheesha can be even more harmful.  Sheesha smokers absorb more carbon monoxide than do cigarette smokers, putting themselves at greater risk for coronary heart disease, arteriosclerosis and chronic respiratory disease.  It can also retard fetal growth.
Sheesha smokers using charcoal have higher levels of carbon monoxide in their blood than those using an electrical device.  Carbon monoxide absorption is greatly increased when sheesha is smoked just prior to sleeping.  Even minimal exposure to carbon monoxide is known to be harmful and people who smoke sheesha as little as once a day put themselves at risk.  According to the study 15 minutes of smoking sheesha is equivalent to smoking one cigarette.  The researchers defined a ‘smoker’ as anyone who smoked 15-30 grams of jurak each day.
   A study conducted on adult males suggests that sheesha smoking may be responsible for abnormal changes in their chromosomes.  Another study concluded that regular sheesha smokers carry a risk of deforming their teeth.  And although not proven, it is suspected that sheesha smoking may lead to cancer.

Facts about sheesha:

  1. Symptoms reported by sheesha smokers include headaches, blurred vision, palpitation and dizziness.
  2. Sheesha smokers have higher levels of carbon monoxide in their blood than cigarette smokers.
  3. Burning jurak with coal results in greater absorption of carbon monoxide than when an electrical device used.
  4. Smoking sheesha just before sleeping greatly increase absorption of carbon monoxide.
  5. Sheesha smoking may increase the risk of heart disease, arterioscleroses and chronic respiratory disease.
  6. Sheesha smoking stunts fetal growth.
  7. Sheesha smoke may trigger an asthma attack.
  8. Sheesha smokers exhibit higher levels of total cholesterol than cigarette smokers.
  9. Smoking sheesha increases gastric acidity, thus increasing the chance of peptic ulcers.
  10. Passing the sheesha from person to person is unhygienic and may result in transmission of communicable diseases.

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