Incense – Is It Really Beneficial?

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH


Incense gives a higher risk of cancerWith the new age popularity of aromatherapy, the use of incense has been on the rise.

From an anti-aging perspective, studies have repeatedly shown that burning incense releases smoke laden with cancer-causing chemicals (carcinogens). The level of highly carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons inside a Taiwanese temple, where incense is common, increased to 19 times the level found outside when incense was burned.

Incense burning also releases large quantities of other pollutants, especially suspended particles that are equally toxic. The levels of these were 3 times higher inside the temple than at a busy traffic intersection and 11 times higher than in ambient air.

If you want to minimize cancer, try to stay away as much as possible from incense. If such exposure is unavoidable, make sure you take adequate amount of anti-oxidants for protection. Studies have shown that it takes about 65 mg of Vitamin C to neutralize the free radical release by one cigarette. We don’t know how much Vitamin C is needed to offset the smoke from incense, but taking 500 mg to 1000 mg as a preventive measure should be considered.


Incense gives a higher risk of cancer




1 Comment

  • Bryce Adams Peterson says:

    I normally burn incense daily, for Aroma therapy reasons. Can I open a window or use an air purifier to combat the pollutant levels ? Is there an alternative to traditional incense ?