Domestic incense burning and nasopharyngeal carcinoma: a case-control study in Hong Kong Chinese

Environ Mol Mutagen. 2014 Dec;55(9):751-6. doi: 10.1002/em.21894. Epub 2014 Aug 14.


Incense burning is a powerful producer of carcinogens and has been considered as a risk factor for nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC). We conducted a case-control study and case-only analyses to investigate the effect of incense burning and its interaction with genetic background on NPC risk among Hong Kong Chinese. Between June 2010 and December 2012, we recruited 352 incident cases of NPC and 410 controls. We collected information on lifelong practice of domestic incense burning via interviews and genotyped 80 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in DNA repair genes. We observed an increased NPC risk associated with daily burning in women [Adjusted OR = 2.49, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.33, 4.66] but not in men. The adjusted OR for daily burning with poor ventilation was 2.08 (95% CI: 1.02, 4.24), while that with good ventilation was 1.35 (95% CI: 0.92, 1.98). Interactions between 2 SNPs (rs2074517 and rs4771436) and incense burning were significantly associated with NPC risk and tended to have a SNP exposure-response effect. Evidence for gene-environment interactions supported the knowledge that NPC is a multi-factorial disease resulting from the joint effects of environmental exposures and inherited susceptibility.

Keywords: DNA repair; etiology; gene-environment interaction; incense; nasopharyngeal carcinoma; risk factor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Air Pollution, Indoor / adverse effects*
  • Asian Continental Ancestry Group
  • Carcinoma
  • Case-Control Studies
  • DNA Repair / genetics
  • Female
  • Gene-Environment Interaction
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Hong Kong
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma
  • Nasopharyngeal Neoplasms / chemically induced*
  • Nasopharyngeal Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide