Betel Nut And Your Health

                                                      Betel nuts

The name betel comes from the betel-pepper plant. Though the nut and the betel – pepper plant are unrelated but the name was derived from the betel –pepper plant because betel chewers usually wrap a piece of areca fruit in betel – pepper leaf, together with a little mineral lime.
Therefore, betel nut is actually the tropical, fleshly fruit of the areca palm (betel palm), usually found in the Southeast Asia and the pacific.

Health hazards of chewing betel nut

The lime promotes the release of alkaloid stimulant which can make chewers  wanting to chew more and more of the nuts thus making chewing of betel nuts their second nature.

Many chewers spit repeatedly because spices, tobacco or sweetness are usually added in the preparation to make the taste better. This makes the color to be blood –red, stimulates the production of saliva and this result to frequent spitting.

Consistent chewing of betel nut can give the teeth a brownish – red staining. It can also result to various mouth disease such as oral submucous fibrosis and gum disease.

                            Betel nut chewer with stained tooth                      Betel nuts
                                                                Image from Google search

Chronic betel nut chewing can lead to serious medication complications such mouth cancer known as oral squamous cell carcinoma and cardiovascular disease.

Chewing betel nut can disrupt or damage the DNA of an unborn baby. Therefore, pregnant women should avoid the chewing of betel nut so as not to disrupt the development of the fetus.

Chronic chewer of betel nut usually exhibit such cholinergic (altering of the state and function of the central nervous system and the neurotransmitters) symptoms such as sweating, vomiting, diarrhea, frequent salivation, excessive tearing etc.

Habitual chewing of betel nut can result to side effects such as excessive heart beat, anxiety, insomnia, high blood pressure, cardiac arrhythmia etc.

Since those fond of chewing betel nut do so because of one reason or the other, betel nut definitely have it own benefits, health wise or not.

The habitual chewer will give one or more health benefits for the reason why they are chewing it. But the fact is that such claim by chewers cannot be scientifically or medically proved. Research also shows that the health hazards of chewing betel nut far outweigh any associated benefits.

What the news says about betel nut

“World wide, betel nut sales bring in billions of dollars”.

“The highest population of betel nut chewer is found in the East Africa, Pakistan, India, Southeast Asia, Papua new Guinea and Micronesia and they are about 10% of the world’s population.”

“Users often consider it harmless and report a sense of well – being and a warm sensation of the body …. Evidence has shown, however, that it is far from harmless“. – Oral Health 

“Papua New Guinea’s favorite chew, the betel nut, is killing at least 2000 people a year and is responsible for many health problems, according to the PNG Medical Society”. – Papua New Guinea’s post – courier.

“Taiwan’s rate of oral cancer – one of the Island’s top 10 causes of death – has nearly quadrupled in the past 40 years”. – The China post

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