Incense Can Increase Your Cancer Risk

tea incense mat (1)

A couple of days ago I bought some incense. A friend uses incense all of the time. I liked the smell of it, so I thought why not try buying some for myself. When I lit the first stick I could immediately smell the aloe scent and liked the look of the smoke coming from it. However, after a little while the stream of the smoke shifted and blew right at my face. It was at that point that I wondered whether incense is bad for you.

It would make sense since when people smoke cigarettes they are taking in toxic smoke and this is what can lead to severe health problems such as lung cancer. This is why many people try portion snus and other things to help them to quit smoking due to these fumes causing illnesses. If a person experiences a respiratory problem that could be caused by an underlying pulmonary issue, they should seek immediate medical attention. Expert advice should be sought from institutions like Gwinnett Lung, whose physicians would be best equipped to provide a solution. In that light then, should we be trying to quit incense as well?

The Studies

As it turns out, particulate matter released from incense contains possible carcinogens such as polyaromatic hyodrcarbons (PAHs), carbonyls and benzene. One study followed over 60,000 Chinese living in Singapore for 12 years to track the association between incense use and cancer. 821 cases of lung cancer and 325 cases of upper respiratory tract cancers were reported during the time period. The study found a link between incense use and squamous cell carcinomas of the upper respiratory tract (mouth and throat, etc.), but interestingly not with lung cancer. Lung cancer is a serious illness that so many smokers do not even think about when they are puffing away, this is why awareness is essential in these times so that lung cancer diagnostics can be run to see if it has affected smokers and non-smokers who have been around smoke and other pollutants.


Burning incense every once in a while probably isn’t going to have a major effect. One doctor likened it to second-hand smoke. “At the end of the day, people who use incense casually, I don’t think that’s a cause for major concern, but those cultures which embrace incense as part of their daily lifestyles have to consider this has a real potential risk for cancer.” If you do keep using incense, use it outside, open a window or otherwise try to ventilate the area.