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Eur Respir J. 2011 Jun;37(6):1371-7. doi: 10.1183/09031936.00137210. Epub 2010 Nov 25.

Glutathione S-transferase, incense burning and asthma in children.

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  • 1Department of Paediatrics, Taipei Hospital, Department of Health, School of Medicine, FuJen Catholic University, Taipei 100, Taiwan.


Incense burning is a popular practice in many family homes and temples. However, little is known about the effects of indoor incense burning and genetic polymorphisms on asthma. This study evaluated the effects of indoor incense burning and glutathione S-transferase (GST) genetic polymorphisms on asthma and wheeze. In 2007, 3,764 seventh-grade schoolchildren (mean±sd age 12.42±0.65 yrs) were evaluated using a standard questionnaire for information about respiratory symptoms and environmental exposures. Multiple logistic regressions were performed to assess the association between GST polymorphisms and incense burning frequency on asthma and wheeze, after adjusting for potential confounders. The frequency of incense burning at home was associated with increased risk of current asthma (p=0.05), medication use (p=0.03) and exercise wheeze (p=0.001). GST1 (GSTT1) null genotypes were associated with current asthma (OR 1.43, 95% CI 1.00-2.04) and medication use (OR 1.46, 95% CI 1.01-2.22). GSTT1 showed a significant interactive effect with incense burning on current asthma, current wheeze and nocturnal wheeze. The frequency of incense burning was associated with increased risk of current asthma, medication use, lifetime wheeze, nocturnal wheeze and exercise wheeze in an exposure-response manner among children with GSTT1 null genotype (p<0.05). Incense burning is a risk factor for asthma and wheezing, especially in GSTT1 genetically susceptible children.

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