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Doctors Warn About "Cinnamon Challenge" Among Teens

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The "Cinnamon Challenge" is no laughing matter, although the name might sound a little ridiculous. In fact, the new trend among teens has left several with health problems including lesions, scarring, and inflammation of the airways and lungs. Recent reports also say that one teen girl ended up in the hospital for four days after taking the "challenge".

The Cinnamon Challenge is a YouTube phenomenon and consists of teens challenging each other to inhale a tablespoon of cinnamon in a minute without drinking any water. A new study highlights the dangers of participating in the game; researchers say that the challenge has led to an increase in calls to the American Association of Poison Control Centers or 178 challenge-related calls. That's triple the amount of calls received in 2011 with 69% of those calls involving intentional misuse of cinnamon and 30% required medical attention.

The study authors also say that cinnamon is comprised of cellulose fibers that don’t dissolve or biodegrade, which is why inhaling the spice can lead to permanent health problems in the lungs. At the very worst, teens who participate in the challenge could develop chronic lung disease called progressive pulmonary fibrosis. The researchers say that the challenge has been around since 2001 but really took off when it hit YouTube. Currently, there are about 40,000 videos of teens participating in the cinnamon challenge, and the researchers are very aware of the lure of social media sites for teens. They urge parents to talk with their teens about seemingly harmless games like the Cinnamon Challenge as “these discussions can also help children learn to weigh the risks and rewards of yielding to peer pressure when considering senseless and risky behaviors.”