Incense use and cancer

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A new study into the risks associated with indoor pollution draws some worrying conclusions. This time the pollutant in question is incense. According to researchers, prolonged use of incense sticks appears to increase the risk of cancer of the respiratory tract.

An international team of American, Danish and Taiwanese researchers monitored more than 61,000 Chinese inhabitants of Singapore between 1993 and 2005. The participants were aged between 45 and 74 and none of them was suffering from cancer at the start of the study. All completed a questionnaire regarding their diet and lifestyle.

Twelve years later, the authors recorded 325 cases of cancer of the respiratory tract (nose, sinus, tongue, mouth, etc) within the cohort. We have shown that prolonged use of incense is associated with a significant increase in the risk of cancer of the respiratory tract, the scientists explain. They point out that prolonged use of incense is particularly common on the continent of Asia. But it is also used regularly in the West too.

Back in 2004, in France, the magazine Que-Choisir had already raised the alarm. According to their investigations, incense sticks emitted 110 times more benzene (a highly carcinogenic substance) into the atmosphere than the level public authorities recommend. So it’s time for some common sense advice: if there is an unpleasant smell in your house or apartment you may be better off with your windows open.

Health file  The lack of education and political will, poverty, out-moded traditional beliefs, to mention but a few, have been widely blamed for causing severe and sometimes unwarranted health catastrophies of genocidal proportions on the African continent. Child killer diseases, malaria, tuberculosis, water borne diseases, HIV/AIDS, among other preventable ailments have killed millions in their wake. As rightly said by the former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, on May 13, 2000 "More people (...) died of Aids in the past year (1999-2000, ndlr) in Africa than in all the wars on the continent".
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