Aggarbatti more harmful than cigarettes; can cause cancer

Like every other Indian you also burn incense (Agarbatti) to show your devotion towards God? If yes, then you might be willing to stop burning incense either at home or at temple as it might be dangerous for health. In fact, toxic materials coming out of incense smoke are more hazardous than cigarettes. A new study has warned that burning incense can cause several diseases including cancer and poses serious threat to our health. Scientists claim that against the old belief, incense is more harmful than cigarettes and they have found toxic particles coming out of incense smoke.

People are unaware of the harmful effects of burning incense in indoor environment and people should be made aware of health hazards associated with it with the help of awareness programs and health management schemes, said lead researcher Rong Zhou from South China University of Technology in Guangzhou.

For the study, researchers compared the health risk associated with incense smoke at home and health hazards linked with cigarettes. Study authors took agarwood and sandalwood scented incense as they are most used in Indian homes.

To examine the health hazards, study authors tested effect of incense smoke and cigarette smoke on animals.They found 64 compounds in incense smoke, some compounds were less harmful while some compounds were highly toxic.

They found some hazardous chemicals in incense smoke that can even alter DNA of a person causing mutations. Researchers also found incense smoke to be more cytotoxic — potentially more toxic to cell and genotoxic —  more toxic to genes.

According to study authors, the three factors mutagenic, genotoxins and cytotoxins are widely linked with cancers. Thus, they warned people that smoke of incense can be the major reason behind the development of cancer. Also, people burn aggarbatti in a packed room where there is very little passage for the smoke to come out making it even more harmful as smoke remains in the for longer time. It is to be noted that greater the exposure to smoke, greater is the risk of developing any health disease. So, beware whenever next you burn incense, it might give you life-threatening disease.

The study was published in Springer’s journal Environmental Chemistry Letters.

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