Research: Incense smoke more harmful than cigarettes


Incense smokes are widely used all over the world – from the hippies hanging around in the west to the temples in the Far East – but recent studies revealed how less the world had known about the aromatic biotic material behind the fragrant smoke.

Incense is made from bamboo sticks which are coated in straw-dust and various essential oils – on burning incense, the particles are released and a fragrance created.

According to a recent research, incense smoke could be more toxic than cigarette smoke and the fragrance can harm the body cells in a much greater amount.

As per the study, incense smoke, compared to cigarette smoke, has more Genotoxic, Mutagenic and Cytotoxic. It can result in genetic mutations and may bring changes in cell DNA, eventually leading to cancer.

The researchers have accepted that the research was done on a small scale, restricting only on rodents, so this research cannot draw any firm conclusion, but they suggest an assessment to be done on all incense products. Dr Nick Hopkinson, a medical advisor from the British Lung Foundation, while talking to the British media, stated that various kinds of smokes could be toxic – including incense.

He added that people with lung diseases should avoid using such fragrances, especially burning incense – same should be done by parents whose children’s lungs are still developing.

Breathing in incense may cause an inflammatory reaction, usually due to the particles within the fragrance being sucked in the lungs in large. It has been known that it may cause Leukaemia, cancers and tumors but still needs more research to understand how it is a source of air pollution.

Dr Hopkinson informed British media that any source of smoke is harmful for health, and may lead to cancer be it incense, cigarettes or bio-mass – though incense is highly toxic.

The research, which was also carried out by the China Tobacco Guangdong Industrial Company, was published in the journal Environmental Chemistry Letters.