back to article Joss-sticks increase cancer risk: Official

Researchers have warned that burning joss-sticks and incense is associated with "an increase in some types of lung cancer, and cancers of the upper respiratory tract, such as throat and mouth cancer", the Guardian reports. In what represents a terrible blow for hippies and Strategy Boutiques*, a 12-year study by Dr Jeppe …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In another recent experiment...

    ... it was found that people who attended barbeques on a regular basis and stood downwind of the BBQ smoke, were five times more likely to get lung cancer .

    It's also believed (but unconfirmed) that inhaling fumes from burning matter of any type on a regular basis could be detrimental to your health - a billion £ research grant has been awarded to N.S.Sherlock to further investigate this claim.

  2. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    Whilst I should really take notice...

    I'll be too buzzed out at home with my yoga, joss sticks and best of the Ozric Tentacles playing on the stereo.

    Mines the one of many colours hand stitched by Jeff Minter.

  3. Timothy Slade

    old news

    Maybe not this particular study, but this effect was reported in New Scientist more then 5 years ago.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Factored out smoking?

    This would have nothing to do with the big fat joints eveyone who's burning incense is smoking then?

    I've not once been anywhere where there's been incense that hasn't had someone smoking weed in. And that includes shops.

    Mine's the one with the pre-rolled in the inside pocket.

  5. Harry Stottle

    Doubling a small risk is not very risky

    and the question they haven't answered (as usual) is "what is the absolute mortality rate?" It may well be that the risk of cancer has doubled but that others have reduced, leaving to no overall change in mortality, or even, (as now hinted by several strands of cannabis research) a small overall benefit...

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    I can’t wait for updated anti-smoking legislation...

    I don’t know which would be funnier, the sight of the congregation all huddled outside on a wet Sunday morning, or churches being turned into Dutch barns so they’re not substantially enclosed on 3 sides. I'm off for a fag and then I'm going to Hell.

  7. James Le Cuirot

    Re: old news

    It was probably this particular study that was reported here in May.

    Seeing this again worries me though. My wife uses them all the time. I've told her to cut down and I think she has a little bit but not much. I don't want to be a nag but the thought of your wife getting lung cancer when you've only been married three months isn't very comforting.

  8. Mark Silver badge

    On a side note . .

    . . new research finds that car exhaust fumes increase risk of cancer and all breathing disorders. But never mind that lets pick on smokers and hippies . . .

  9. Steve

    More stats abuse...

    "the small risk of developing upper respiratory tract cancers nearly doubled in people who used incense regularly".

    Tell us the actual risk or the doubling means nothing. An increase in risk factor from 1:1,000,000 to 2:1,000,000 makes fuck all difference to me.

  10. Dave Murray

    More regulation needed

    Burnt toast is known to be carcinogenic. I think toaster regulation could be relevant.

  11. mike panero

    Can we have another health scare

    How about not being paid enormous sums?

    Not having sex ?

    Over exposure to dodgy statistics?

    Just plain working to f*cking hard?

    Books by authours named Brian?

  12. Jason Harvey
    Paris Hilton

    re: Factored out smoking?

    "I've not once been anywhere where there's been incense that hasn't had someone smoking weed in. And that includes shops."

    you should get out more then. everyone I know that uses incense sticks doesn't even smoke ciggs much less joints.

    Paris cause even she knows to get out and around.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ironic, eh?

    How ironic, if it's true, that incense, used forever as an intrinsic part of a wide range of physical and emotional healing practices, should itself be the cause of deadly disease. Someone should buy and turn it into an information portal for the facts about incense. The new report seems to indicate that exposure in a dorm room, massage parlor or church is not enough to be dangerous, but all the facts should be laid out plainly at such a web site. One more thing – while incense appears to cause oral cancer, so does tobacco, alcohol, the HPV virus (the cause of most cervical cancer), etc., so everybody should get an annual oral cancer exam (it’s called ViziLite) from their dentist.

  14. Britt Johnston

    Re: Research on burning matter of any type

    While waiting for results, garden refuse can no longer be burned in Switzerland - it must be composted.

    Exceptionally, high-temperature incinerators are excused, and that only because so much is recycled that the remaining wets don't burn properly without additives.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    No respect

    The folks who did this research are probably don't believe in ancestor worship...

    Maybe they need to encounter a ghost to know that the other side is a very real thing. Which shouldn't be too hard, It's the hungry ghost month, where the deceased are allowed to return from the other side to see their living relatives for the month. Likewise, it is considered prudent for the living relatives to put out food and joss sticks to feed the invisible relatives who returned so they don't get upset and can go back to the other side in peace once the month ends.

    Flame. Because you need that to light joss sticks.

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Yet more research...

    New research of everyone between the ages of 6 and 60, who have died in the past 100 years, show a conclusive link, with a ration of 1:1, that anyone who breathes have a 100% increased risk of dying.

    It is the recommendation of this report that breathing should be banned outside pubs.

    Now, where's that research grant?

  17. NRT

    @Harry Stottle

    The 'Risk of Mortality' is about 100%

    I never worry about a small increase.


  18. Steven Knox
    Dead Vulture

    Show Your Work

    "the small risk of developing upper respiratory tract cancers nearly doubled"

    So it went from @0.27% in the general population to @0.54% (325/@60,000) in the test population -- or from a @1:369 chance to @1:185?

    Of course that's assuming that "more than 60,000" is actually close to 60,000, and not, say, 6.022x10^23. Seriously, these people are doing statistics, and the closest thing to a number they give us is "more than 60,000"?

  19. Tim

    No one has ever died from joss sticks...

    ... it was actually Chuck Norris, roundhousing them in the lungs and leaving no traces behind ... no traces at all!!!

  20. Elmer Phud

    Smoke gets in your eyes

    Further to the idea of churches having most of the walls knocked down, I was just wondering about the cancer risks from cremation. As one gets older one has a tendency to attend more of these ways of saying goodbye to loved ones. That the bastards could get the final word in by giving me the big 'C' -- "CLIVE: What, cancer?

    DEREK: Yeah." -- is cause for concern.

  21. Andrew Moore Silver badge


    ...Joss Stone gives you ear cancer and Joss Whedon gives you eye cancer.

  22. Ben
    Black Helicopters

    Here it comes.......

    "The War On Joss sticks" , shit here come the helicopters ,if only i had taken

    more notice of those tv ads extolling the pleasure and virtue to be had by investing in

    (completely safe and legal to use as certified by someone quite important and/or quite rich and/or expert and/or flawless media profile and /or blonde/young/old

    /distinguished/believable /great hairdresser etc etc )

    lavender,citrus or pine "air fresheners" ( cough , retch , skin reaction , irritation , breathing difficulties ) , you know , the ones that plug into a 13 amp socket

    (ffs) HEY! you could have a different "fragrance" in every room...wheeeze .

    But no , i decided to burn lethal patchouli and even now , Jaqui Smith is abseiling down from the helicopter carrying a flaming dildo in one hand , a loudhailer wedged up her arse , and an assault rifle screwed to her knee...woooohooo......

    "These are organized gangs , making huge amounts of money , attempting total

    destruction of the core values of our society and they must be stopped"

    said a spokesperson (uh) for the government

    Oooooooooo de torchum neva stop ....another day , another sausage .

  23. Anonymous Coward

    Lies, damn lies, then statistics

    Lies, damn lies, then statistics

    Especially in medicine.

    Don't believe this crap. In a year or two we'll find a study that contradicts these findings. There is real scientific research that proves what really causes diseases, such as cancer. It's not due to environmental factors. If you want to know the truth, it's out there. Do a search. The medical industry in the US is over 2 trillion dollars annually. If we suddenly began curing all diseases, rather than just treat them, the entire medical industry would go under.

    "The two-trillion dollars we spend on medical care, which represents one-sixth of the U.S. economy is concerned almost exclusively with treating the symptoms of illness."

    No doctor/company/research center would dare put themselves out of business. You are sick, come here so I can treat you. Come back again when you're sick. Thanks for your support: $$$$$$$$$.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Fuck you, hippies!

  25. Allan Dyer Silver badge

    Not a frequent traveller

    "This would have nothing to do with the big fat joints eveyone who's burning incense is smoking then?

    I've not once been anywhere where there's been incense that hasn't had someone smoking weed in. And that includes shops."

    So you haven't been to Singapore (where the study was conducted), or any other territory (e.g. Hong Kong) where these are frequently used for Taoist, Buddhist and ancestor worshiping practices.

    Generally, I close the window when there's a religious festival, and the local shrine gets busy.

    Flame - obviously.

  26. Luke Wells


    Now we have a legitimate reason to BAN HIPPIES

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Another thing causing cancer?

    When I saw the title of the article I thought it was going to be from the Daily Mail.

    Right, so joss sticks cause throat/lung/mouth/gum cancer - of course you would have to be right next to the joss stick inhaling for hours at a time every day for years probably.

    Slow news day I suppose.

  28. Ascylto


    Do these researchers work for Chichester Council?

  29. Tom Kelsall

    Not all...

    ...incense users use drugs. That's one point out of the way. Also, a lot of the incense you can buy nowadays is chemically made by machine; I wonder if the study knew which KINDS of incense were being used?

    The incense I use is hand made from purely natural ingredients; containing not ONE synthetic element. I wonder if this carries the same risk? (No, it's not made by Babylonian Virgins in Utopia - but by well-paid women in Pondicherry, Eastern India).

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Artificial vs natural

    "...polyaromatic hydrocarbons, carbonyls and benzene..."

    Some or all of these things are present in most smoke from burning organics. And burnt toast. Doesn't really make much difference whether it's plant resin or artfully-distilled mineral oil.

    Wonder if there's been any research on the long term effects of various air fresheners, especially those plug-in ones.

  31. Tony

    @James Le Cuirot

    'My wife uses them all the time'

    You should suggest she starts smoking instead James. It seems that you're both going to get cancer from the passive smoke anyway and at least smoking will help keep her thin and make her look cool.

  32. Geoff Mackenzie

    Prejudice :(

    Not all drug users use incense.

  33. Zmodem

    yup, ban um, everything gets blamed for cancer

    except car pollution

  34. Coop

    Well, at least they will...

    ... die in nice smelling homes....

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Bad news for the Catholic Church

    "a terrible blow for hippies and Strategy Boutiques" - but Shirley ... Hippies have the BEST blow.

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