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The rise of an imitated online dare called "the Cinnamon Challenge" is causing local health officials to warn that the stunt is more dangerous than it appears.
To some, the dare seen on dozens of YouTube videos might seem amusing at first, but as many teens are discovering, trying to swallow a mouthful of powered cinnamon is no joke. High school sophomore Dejah Reed, 16, discovered this when she tried to gulp down a spoonful of cinnamon and wound up in the emergency room.
"I coughed the cinnamon up and inhaled it in my lungs, and my right lung collapsed, so I couldn't breathe at all," Reed says.
Pulmonary specialists say cinnamon is caustic and contains cellulose. When inhaled, the cellulose can lodge in the lungs where the caustic cinnamon oil can irritate and scar lung tissue, possibly leading to pulmonary fibrosis.
Dr. Kathleen Clancy with the national capitol poison center says calls in the region concerning the inhalation of inhaling cinnamon are increasing.
"We've gotten about 12 this year so far, and last year we only had about 11 for the whole year," Clancy says.
Reed who has recovered from her injury now runs a website designed to encourage teens to just say no to the cinnamon challenge.