Burning incense sticks has been one of the common practices in considerably all Asian households since ages, specially conspicuous during rituals and ceremonies. The smoke from an incense stick is easily the least suspicious while discussing health hazards but alas! A recent research claims that the smoke from the incense is more harmful than the smoke from a burning cigarette.
The research which concluded on the mutation effects of incense smoke was conducted on bacteria and few Chinese hamsters by exposing them to the smoke by burning incense as well as to smoke from cigarettes. Though two kinds of incense was used, consisting of a slightly varied composition, both produced similar effects on the creatures which were astonishingly more detrimental than cigarette smoke.
One Rong Zhou of the South China University of Technology quoted:
“Clearly, there needs to be greater awareness and management of the health risks associated with burning incense in indoor environments”
The caution raised here was mainly due to presence of toxins like cytotoxic and genotoxic, said to be toxic to cells and the DNA which are comparatively found less in tobacco smoke. Effectively, those exposed to incense in indoor environments were being said to be more prone to cancer caused by the consolidated quantities of harmful entities. In addition to being hazardous, several other chemicals were identified carrying the qualities of many known irritants.
Researchers have maintained a research article with a note pointing towards a need to evaluate and assess the use of incense sticks in order to reduce exposure to their smoke. It’s also noteworthy to consider that the tests were performed under few improbable circumstances, without an epilogue on direct effect on humans, as well the variation in the intake of cigarette and incense smoke in the case of humans.
To date, there is no visible lead on whether the said claims carry any value. Unless a new, trustworthy* study is carried out, you cannot discard the traditions which passed down through the ages.
*The above discussed research was carried out with the help of a Chinese tobacco company making the argument further debatable. Avoid tobacco, save lives!