Is incense smoke safe to breathe?
By Michael Castleman for Live Right Live Well
No. In a new study, researchers found that people who burned incense
frequently were almost twice as likely to develop cancers of the upper
respiratory tract (nasal sinuses, mouth, tongue and larynx) compared to
those who rarely or never burned incense. What's more, the risk
increased for both smokers and nonsmokers, which means the harmful
effects of burning incense are independent of smoking cigarettes.
incense produces a considerable amount of smoke," says study leader,
Jeppe Friborg, M.D., of the Danish Epidemiology Science Center in
Copenhagen. "That smoke contains a multitude of harmful constituents,
including benzene and polyaromatic hydrocarbons." (It's not clear why
the study found no association between incense smoke and lung cancer.
Other studies have. One possibility is that participants were followed
for an average of 10 years, which may not have been long enough to show
a significant increase in lung cancers.)
As a result of this
study, the American Lung Association has added incense burning to its
list of risk factors for respiratory cancers. So if you enjoy incense,
you might want to consider scented candles, essential oils or potpourri
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