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Dangers of Smoking Hookah

Michael Bergstein, MD, FACS Michael Bergstein, MD, FACS October 7, 2020

Young people need to be made aware of the negative impact of hookah smoking on their health, including the increased risk for developing oral cancer. A typical hookah session can last up to one hour, with smokers taking long, deep breaths, so that the smoke inhaled can equal 100 cigarettes or more, according to a 2005 study by the World Health Organization. Therefore, it is critical that hookah smokers stop immediately and practice preventive measures against oral cancer.

Individuals should routinely perform simple oral self-exams of their mouth in order to help detect early changes before they become harmful. Most oral cancers start as a very small white or red spot — typically the size of a sesame seed. Everyday trauma, such as cheek biting, a sharp tooth or a pizza burn causes the majority of these spots in the mouth. Unhealthy habits, such as excessive alcohol intake and/or smoking, put individuals at greater risk for oral cancer, so changes in the mouth have a greater likelihood of showing the first signs of an oral cancer.

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