Asthma linked to incense burning

Incense has been burned in homes all over the world for millennia as part of religious and spiritual ceremonies, however a new study from the National Taiwan University in Taipei on nearly 4,000 children has discovered that those whose parents burned incense are 36% more likely to suffer from asthma, and 64% more likely to wheeze when exercising. Half of the people in the study had no genetic propensity to developing asthma.

Incense is made of fragrant plant materials, which, when burnt, create harmful substances including benzene and polyaromatic hydrocarbons.

A study of 61,000 Chinese adults followed for up to 12 years found a link between heavy incense use and various respiratory cancers. Neither this study nor the Taiwanese one proves that incense is the reason for the greater risk of asthma or disease, but the Taiwanese study raises the possibility that limiting incense use at home could help prevent asthma in some children.

The European Respiratory Journal

First Publishd in January 2011

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