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Did You Know?: Incense Burning & Cancer

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Air date: September 7, 2008


Did You know?
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Wishard Health Services

Did you Know? is presented by Wishard Health Services, becoming Eskenazi Health in 2014.

It's true: long-term exposure to burning incense raises your risk for a certain type of cancers.

Thatís according to a new study by Dutch researchers. They found that breathing in incense over several years nearly doubles the risk of respiratory tract cancers,including cancers of the tongue, mouth, nasal passages and larynx.

How do they know?

The researchers studied more than 60,000 ethnic Chinese in Singapore between the ages of 45 and 74 who had no history of cancer. After following the participants for up to 12 years they found that those who regularly burned and breathed in incense were twice as likely to have upper respiratory tract cancer.

Other studies have shown that incense smoke is full carcinogens, similar to cigarette smoke.

So if youíre into incense, the researchers suggest not burning regularly it in rooms where you spend a lot of time. Inhaling incense now and again is probably fine, but breathing in the stuff every day is a dangerous habit.