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Health experts warned Monday about serious risks from the "Cinnamon Challenge," a game popular with US teens, who ingest a spoonful of the pungent spice, then try to refrain from drinking water.
A study published in the journal Pediatrics warned that while the game may seem like harmless fun, many youth who play in end up taking a trip to the emergency room, and some even suffer lung damage.
Over the past few years, it has become popular for youth to film themselves attempting the stunt, then gagging desperately as they try to refrain from drinking water for at least a minute. One such video on YouTube has garnered nearly 30 million views.
But cinnamon is caustic, and trying to swallow it can cause choking, throat irritation, breathing trouble and even collapsed lungs, the Pediatrics report warned.
"Cinnamon is a caustic powder composed of cellulose fibers, which are bio-resistant and bio-persistent. They neither dissolve nor biodegrade in the lungs," said the study, which was released online.
"It is prudent to warn that the Cinnamon Challenge has a high likelihood to be damaging to the lungs," the study said.
Pediatrics said at least 30 teens across the United States required medical attention after taking the challenge last year.