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Is Shisha/Hookah Smoking Safe For You? Our Expert Debunks Myths And Facts

The Kashmir Monitor





“Cigarette smoking is a health hazard,” correction, “Smoking is a health hazard altogether!”

A glass-bottomed water pipe, some fruit flavored tobacco and roasted charcoal, shisha is so relaxing and so much safer than cigarette smoking. Turns out, this is not true.

If you believed that smoking shisha/hookah is not as harmful as smoking cigarettes, check your facts. This habit can have repercussions worse than those of smoking cigarettes.


Where young adults meet in shisha cafes, sharing the pipe with each other and enjoying a peaceful and relaxing time, they fail to realize that they are doing worse to their lungs that they could do with cigarettes.

But the water in hookah absorbs all the toxins right? Well, it doesn’t!

And it’s not just water, even if you prepare a milk-based hookah; it is not going to be any better. No matter what you use as a base, the effect of hookah on your body will not be a positive one.

Dr. Himanshu Garg explains this. He says, “Hookah is as harmful as cigarettes. People have this perception that it is safer because smoke passes through the water but that has been proven wrong. While smoking hookah, people tend to inhale very deeply and people do it all day long which makes it a part of the culture. It might be a little milder but turns out that the impact will be the same altogether.”

In fact, smoking hookah exposes you to more tobacco due to the excess amount of smoke that you inhale in one go which is much more than cigarettes. Hookah lasts for more than an hour as compared to a little cigarette which goes out in just a few minutes.

A World Health Organisation report suggests than smoking a hookah for an hour is as bad as smoking a 100 cigarettes or more. So if you feel that opting for hookah is cooler and safer, trust us, it’s not. Even if the tobacco passes through water, the cancer-causing chemicals are still there which can affect you with lung and heart cancer.
Take a look at the potential risks involved with smoking shisha:

1. Smoking hookah exposes you to more toxic compounds and high levels of tar. Also, people smoking hookah are exposed to higher levels of carbon monoxide.
2. Hookah smoking can lead to lung cancer, heart diseases, oral cancer and other health risks.

3. Hookah smoking does not guarantee lower levels of nicotine; it can actually be more than that.

4. Second hand smoking risk is greater.

5. If pregnant women smoke shisha during pregnancy, it can result in low birth weight.

6. You never know the hookah pipes in shisha cafes are cleaned properly or not. This can mean a high risk of infections like Hepatitis, meningitis and even tuberculosis in some cases.

7. Hookah smoking can also harm your fertility.

8. It may also lead to wrinkled skin and impotence in extreme cases.

How to quit?

Dr Garg gives his inputs as to how you can quit smoking altogether. He says, “Giving up smoking like they say is like going up a mountain. You may fail some attempts but eventually you will climb the mountain. There are two basic issues involved with it. One is Nicotine addiction and the second is identifying and preventing the basic queues for smoking.”

Dr Garg explains queues as the excuses you make for smoking. For example, after every meal you feel like smoking or even when you wake up you feel the need to smoke. It becomes an automatic behaviour.

He says, “We encourage people to identify these queues and write them down and then work around them. Instead of smoking, you could go for a coffee or juice or any other substance. For nicotine addiction, we recommend nicotine substitution therapy.”

(Dr Himanshu Garg is the Head of the Department of Respiratory and Critical Care at the Artemis Hospital.)



Health Problems from Wearing Heels

The Kashmir Monitor



Heels are one of those great inventions that make anything look fabulous, but is a torture device at the same time. Podiatrist have a distinct hatred for heels and the health problems it brings to the wearer. We wear heels as part of our professional attire or for fashion, but at the end of the day we all slump up on our sofa saying “my feet is killing me”. Who knows why we still allow ourselves to go through this torture, but wearing heels does make you feel a little bit more powerful.

Human feet are not designed to wear heels all the time. Our feet are designed at a 90 degree angle to fully support our frame, altering it to a 60 or 45 degree angle will alter the foot function and position causing health problems. Below are some of the health problems you will encounter from wearing heels overtime.



Heels will increase the pressure on your forefoot and making you adjust your posture to maintain balance. Your lower body will tend to lean forward as your lower body leans backward. Long period of keeping this position will affect the posture.


The back and spine have a normal S- curve that helps absorb shock and lessen pressure on the spine. Wearing heels will flatten this structure and alter the body’s positioning. This poor alignment will cause you to use more muscles, causing muscle pain and back pain. Posterior displacement can be fixed with the help of a medical professional.

Toe Pain and Ankle Pain

Wearing heels will increase the pressure that your toes and ankle face. Trying to balance out your body structure while wearing heels can wear down the joints in your ankles and cause muscles inflammation and calluses on the feet and toes.

Corns and Keratin Build-up

Corns and Keratin build-up will start to appear on the feet due to the pressure on the skin. Corn usually appears under the balls of the foot where most of the weight is pressed down. This corns will feel like small rocks and can cause discomfort.


Pinched nerves or neuromas can cause mild to severe pain to wearers in the future, leaving it untreated can cause severe damage in the future.

Crack on the Bones

Wearing heels for a long period of time will result in cracks in the bones of the feet and stress fractures.


Choose low heels that have a slightly thicker heel. This will allow more balance and spread the pressure on your feet.

Wear soft insoles. Wear rubber soled shoes instead of leather, this will absorb pressure better.

Wear heels when there is limited standing or walking. Bring flat shoes when commuting or walking for a long period of time.

Stretch every day, especially leg and calf stretches in the morning and at night.

Take in calcium supplements to make the bones stronger.

Wear heels are seldom as possible.

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Obesity can impair learning, memory: Study

The Kashmir Monitor



Obesity can break down our protective blood brain barrier resulting in problems with learning and memory, a study has found. Chronic activation of the receptor Adora2a on the endothelial cells that line this important barrier in our brain can let factors from the blood enter the brain and affect the function of our neurons, scientists said.

The team from Augusta University in the US have shown that when they block Adora2a in a model of diet-induced obesity, this important barrier function is maintained. “We know that obesity and insulin resistance break down the blood brain barrier in humans and animal models, but exactly how has remained a mystery,” said Alexis M Stranahan, neuroscientist at Augusta University and corresponding author of the study published in The Journal of Neuroscience.

In the brain, adenosine is a neurotransmitter that helps us sleep and helps regulate our blood pressure; in the body it’s also a component of the cell fuel adenosine triphosphate, or ATP.Adenosine also activates receptors Adora1a and Adora2a on endothelial cells, which normally supports healthy relationships between brain activity and blood flow.


Problems arise with chronic activation, particularly in the brain, which is what happens with obesity, Stranahan said in a statement. People who have obesity and diabetes have higher rates of cognitive impairment as they age and most of the related structural changes are in the hippocampus, a centre of learning and memory.Fat is a source of inflammation and there is evidence that reducing chronic inflammation in the brain helps prevent obesity-related memory loss.

For the study, young mice fed a high-fat diet got fat within two weeks, and by 16 weeks they had increases in fasting glucose and insulin concentrations, all signs that diabetes is in their future. In the minute vasculature of the hippocampus, the researchers saw that obesity first increased permeability of the blood brain barrier to tiny molecules like fluorophore sodium fluorescein, or NaFl. Diet-induced insulin resistance heightened that permeability so that a larger molecule, Evans Blue, which has a high affinity for serum albumin, the most abundant protein in blood, also could get through.

When they looked with electron microscopy, they saw a changed landscape. Resulting diabetes promoted shrinkage of the usually tight junctions between endothelial cells and actual holes in those cells. When they gave a drug to temporarily block Adora2a, it also blocked problems with barrier permeability. Whether that could work in humans and long term as a way to avoid cognitive decline in obese humans, remains to be seen, Stranahan said.

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‘Love hormone’ may help treat alcoholism, says study

The Kashmir Monitor



A nasal spray of ‘love hormone’ oxytocin may help treat alcohol use disorder, according to a study conducted in mice.

Oxytocin plays a role in social bonding, sexual reproduction, childbirth, and the period after childbirth.

The study, published in the journal PLOS Biology, found that oxytocin blocks enhanced drinking in alcohol-dependent rats.


Targeting the oxytocin system may provide novel pharmaceutical interventions for the treatment of alcohol-use disorder, said researchers from the National Institutes of Health and The Scripps Research Institute in the US.

Administering oxytocin can decrease consumption, withdrawal symptoms, and drug-seeking behaviour associated with several drugs of abuse, researchers said in a statement.

This shows promise as a pharmacological approach to treat drug addiction, they said.

Researchers tested the hypothesis that oxytocin administration could normalise the maladaptive brain changes that occur in alcohol dependence and thereby reduce alcohol drinking in an established rat model of alcohol dependence.

They investigated oxytocin’s effects on dependence-induced alcohol consumption and altered signalling of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA in the central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA) – a key brain region in the network affected by alcohol dependence.

The experiments demonstrated that oxytocin administered systemically, intranasally or into the brain blocked excess drinking in alcohol-dependent but not in normal rats.

Moreover, oxytocin blocked GABA signalling in the CeA, researchers said.

Taken together, these results provide evidence that oxytocin likely blocks enhanced drinking by altering CeA GABA transmission.

These results provide evidence that aberrations in the oxytocin system may underlie alcohol use disorder, researchers said.

Targeting this system, possibly by intranasal administration, could prove a promising therapy in people who misuse alcohol, they said.

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