Incense increases cancer risk

By | August 26, 2008

… incense is associated with “an increase in some types of lung cancer, and cancers of the upper respiratory tract, such as throat and mouth cancer”, the Guardian reports. In what represents a terrible blow for hippies and Strategy Boutiques*, a 12-year study by Dr Jeppe Friborg and his colleagues of the Statens Serum Institute in Copenhagen supported previous research showing incense fug “contains cancer-causing chemicals such as polyaromatic hydrocarbons, carbonyls and benzene, which cause mutations to DNA in human cells”.

Between 1993 and 1998, Friborg and associates quizzed more than 60,000 ethnic Chinese people in Singapore aged between 45 and 78. They asked “how much they used incense and collected detailed information on their lifestyle including their diet and how much they drank alcohol and smoked”, and excluded “all participants who had previously had cancer”.

In December 2005, the team checked back in on their original guinea pigs via detailed health records in Singapore’s National Cancer Registry, finding that “325 had developed cancer of the upper respiratory tract and 821 had developed lung cancer”.

Once they’d adjusted the figures to include other possible cancer-causing factors, such as smoking, the researchers discovered incense did indeed increase the risk of developing the aforementioned cancers. Specifically, for example, “the small risk of developing upper respiratory tract cancers nearly doubled in people who used incense regularly”. – register

Burning incense, popular in places of worship and in people’s homes, could be a cancer risk. Researchers in Taiwan found that the smoke produced by burning incense is laden with cancer-causing chemicals. Levels of one chemical believed to cause lung cancer were 40 times higher in a badly ventilated temple in Taiwan than in houses where people smoke tobacco. … A PAH called benzopyrene, which is thought to cause lung cancer in smokers, was found in very high quantities inside the temple. Levels were up to 45 times higher than in homes where residents smoked tobacco, and up to 118 times higher than in areas with no indoor source of combustion, such as cooking fires. – bbc

Leave a Reply