No longer will doctors be recommending that patients take time to “smell the roses” after findings of a 15-year study were published in this week’s New England Journal of Medicine.

The study, conducted by chief researcher Dr Eims Fuller-Krapp of the Gray Cancer Institute, analysed more than 8000 throat cancer victims searching for clues to the disease. While cigarette smoking and environmental pollution have taken the rap by media sources over the years it now appears that smelling roses may instead be the largest contributor.

“The common thread we found in each patient was that they had all been accustomed to smelling roses over their lifetime. The more serious cases, and those that resulted in premature death, were those patients who actually tended a rose garden in their own yard. There was a direct link between the number of rose bushes a patient grew and how severe the onset was, ” Dr Fuller-Krapp said.

The study had isolated a single chemical that naturally occurred in rose blooms nicknamed Chemical X. This chemical, now known as Krappsii – after the researcher who discovered it, develops within the bloom once it has been pollinated. Initially it has no potency but after a few hours degrades into its carcinogenic form.

It affects humans and animals that inhale the scent by firstly de-stabilising the immune system. Then, over many years it builds and solidifies in a person’s respiratory system eventually resulting in acute forms of throat cancer. While other forms of cancer such as lung, tongue and cheek have been linked, researchers are quick to point out that Krappsii isn’t the prime source of these forms.
Rose Whiffsmith, a survivor of throat cancer, was not surprised when she heard that smelling roses may have been the main contributor of her disease.

“My parents ran a rose nursery for many years and Dad’s desire to achieve the greatest rose scent was his driving force until he died prematurely in 1985. Mum outlived him by another 3 years and I was diagnosed with this form of cancer in 2003. Had we known back then that smelling roses was so dangerous to our health, I’m sure my parents would have found another hobby.”

Since the discovery and recent publicity surrounding the findings, authorities have been requesting the flower shows, such as Chelsea, remove their rose exhibitions and that nurseries and garden centres cease to stock these plants. Local councils have also started removing them from their public gardens.

The UK Department of Health has produced an expensive campaign aimed at informing gardeners of the danger or growing roses and encouraging growers to replace them with safer substitutes.

Source: April 1 Media