Hookah

Mikhail Marinovich, left, and Niko Rechul are teammates on the Syracuse football team who opened up a hookah bar on campus. (Lori Shepler / Los Angeles Times / April 19, 2013)

Cigarette smoking may have earned a reputation as an unhealthy, cancer-causing pastime, but water pipes seem to have largely evaded the stigma. Now, new research shows that water pipes may simply be dangerous in slightly different ways, according to a study in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention.

Water pipes, also known as hookah, shisha and a host of other aliases, are a common social activity in the Middle East and have been growing in popularity: a 2011 study found more than 40% of college students had used a hookah, and many of them appeared to believe it was safer than cigarette smoking.

Doctors are trying to dissuade folks of that notion.

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-- Amina Khan, Los Angeles Times