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‘Cinnamon challenge’ poses serious risks to lungs

Frances McInnis
Shine On
March 21, 2012

Moms, keep watch over your spice rack. The "cinnamon challenge" has teens around the world attempting to swallow a teaspoon of cinnamon in under a minute without any water — risking some dangerous side effects.

Scores of videos on YouTube show teens attempting the feat, which leaves them coughing, gasping for air, gagging, and even vomiting.

Worse, doctors say that inhaling cinnamon dust can lead to irritated and scarred lungs, a significant risk for teens with asthma.

"If you have some fine particles, like cinnamon in your lungs, it may be hard to clear out," Dr. Robert Zaid of Providence Hospital in Alabama told ABC News. "Your lungs can kind of collapse on you. There have been several cases reported where kids needed ventilator support because they weren't able to maintain their airway."

One of the cinnamon challenge videos circulating online:

Two teens in Detroit were sent to the hospital after taking the challenge, one of whom stayed for four days to be treated for an infection and a collapsed lung, according to USA Today.

Scores of schools have banned the practice, and one principal in Connecticut was put on administrative leave, reportedly because she did not do enough to prevent students from trying it.

Those who have attempted the challenge say the powder sucks moisture out of your mouth, leaving the cinnamon clumpy and impossible to swallow.

"The minute it hits your throat you just wanted to throw up," University of Ottawa student Zahra Saisal told the Ottawa Sun.

The challenge is at least a decade old, but gained new steam early this year with a series of popular viral videos, several of which have been seen millions of times.

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