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Smokers beware: Neither e-cigarettes or hookahs are likely safe alternatives, say reports

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Once again smoking alternatives claiming to be safe options to tobacco cigarettes are in the news, and this time it's the hookah which is getting attention.

New research reveals risks from the water pipes do expose users to possible harmful chemicals as well as nicotine.

A study published in the Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkes & Prevention publication is reportedly the first link between hookah use and such harmful aspects.

 "One of the main reasons for doing this study is water pipe smoking is becoming much more popular - especially among younger people and college students," said Gideon St.Helen, the study's lead author from the University of California, San Francisco.

Hookahs are water pipes tht use long tubes attached to a glass or plastic water vessel. Tobacco, typically flavored, is then burned using charcoal.

"What the water does do is not filter the smoke, but cools the smoke so it's very easy to inhale," said Eissenberg, of Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.

The study involved  55 hookah users who went a week without smoking and then provided a urine sample. They then used a hookah, provided an immediate sample and then provide a third urine test the next day.

 The report states that nicotine levels increased 73-fold following the hookah session.

 "It's always been a question by water pipe users - blogs and online reviewers - whether the results we get from the lab generalize to a real-life setting," Eissenberg told Reuters Health. "This puts that to rest."

The hookah report comes on the heels of yet another study on e-cigarettes and potential dangers. The most recent research reveals e-cigarettes may be hindering a person's ability to fight off bacteria and actually increase the power of drug-resistant bacteria.

A study conducted by researchers at the VA San Diego Healthcare System and University of California, San Diego explored the impact e-cigarette vapor has on live methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, the MRSA virus, as well as human epthielial cells.

"The virulence of MRSA is increased by e-cigarette vapor," said lead investigator Laura E. Crotty Alexander, MD, VA researcher and assistant professor of medicine in pulmonary and critical care at UCSD, in a press release. The release states that exposure to e-cigarette vapor increased the virulence of the bacteria, helping MRSA escape killing by antimicrobial peptides and macrophages. The vapor, said Alexander, did not make the bacteria as aggressive as cigarette smoke exposure did in parallel studies her group conducted.

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