Doctors are warning against the cinnamon challenge, a dangerous prank that has become popular in YouTube videos. According to a new report published in the Journal of Pediatrics, researchers found that the cinnamon challenge, in which people swallow a spoonful of cinnamon, has resulted in hospitalizations.
The challenge involves swallowing a spoonful of cinnamon in 60 seconds without water. Trying to swallow down the cinnamon can cause choking according to the report released on Monday, reported the AP. The report also said that trying to swallow cinnamon can cause breathing trouble and throat irritation and even collapsed lung.
The report said that there were at least 30 teens around the country who needed medical attention after participating in the cinnamon challenge last year.
"People with asthma or other respiratory conditions are at greater risk of having this result in shortness of breath and trouble breathing," according to an alert posted on the American Association of Poison Control Centers.
Dr. Steven E. Lipshultz an author of the new report and also a professor of pediatrics at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine said to The New York Times,
"People are being poisoned and sickened because of this. We have seen a rise in calls to poison control centers around the United States that mirrored the rise in YouTube videos and their viewing. And that's just for the acute issues."
The report showed that in 2011 Poison Control Centers received 51 calls because of the cinnamon challenge. During the first 6 months of 2012, the number of calls increased to 178 of that number, 30 needed medical attention.
"The cinnamon dare has been around for over a decade, but its popularity took off about four years ago. Google recorded 2.4 million hits for the topic in 2012, up from 200,000 in 2009," reported The New York Times.
Though cinnamon is harmless in small doses, it can be harmful to the airways when inhaled and cause scarring of the lungs and inflammation.
Dr. Lipshultz said that cinnamon powder can contain cellulose which can get stuck in the lungs.
The problem is that cinnamon powder contains an inert substance called cellulose, which can lodge in the lungs.
"The cellulose doesn't break down," Dr. Lipshultz saidto The New York Times. "So when it gets into the lungs it sits there long term, and if it's coated with this caustic cinnamon oil, that leads to chronic inflammation and eventually scarring of the lungs, something we call pulmonary fibrosis. Getting scarring in the lungs is equivalent to getting emphysema."
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