Mangaluru, Oct 29, 2020: Traditional chewing of arecanut (without any additives) or Betel Quid (BQ) with or without Tobacco (BQT) is not harmful to humans, a study by ICAR-CPCRI and city-based Arecanut Research and Development Foundation (ARDF) has revealed.
“There was no significant difference between non-chewers and chewers on health issues,” according to the study’s findings which were published by Directorate of Arecanut and Spices Development in the Indian Journal of Arecanut, Spices and Medicinal Plants (Vol 22-I).
Researchers C T Jose, S Keshava Bhat, K P Chandran, S Jayashekara and Ananda Gowda decided to conduct a study on the impact of arecanut chewing on human health and health benefits. The house-to-house survey conducted in Kasargod (Kerala), Dakshina Kannada, Shivamogga and Uttara Kannada districts (Karnataka) in June 2018 covered 917 people who chewed betel quid (a mixture of arecanut, leaf of Piper betle and lime (calcium hydroxide) with or without tobacco and non-chewers.
World Health Organization estimated that around 600 million people chew betel nut around the globe in some form or another. In countries such as Taiwan, Philippines and Papua New Guinea, people use the inflorescence of P betle instead of its leaf. In India, the betel quid chewers use only the leaf of P betle and not its inflorescence, which contains a good amount of safrol--a carcinogenic compound.
The leaf of the vine does not contain that chemical but contains hydroxichavicol an anticancer drug. In conformity with previous studies, no incidence of cancer was found in arecanut or in BQ chewing people interviewed for the study. But there was one incidence of cancer in BQT chewing group (0.23%) and two cases of cancers in non-chewing group (0.87 %).
Anti-cancer principles in arecanut and betel leaf would have reduced cancerous effects of tobacco in BQT, researchers said.
The present study reveals that traditional chewing of arecanut (without any additives) or betel quid with or without tobacco is not harmful to humans. The study observed that tooth problems were significantly more in non-chewers when compared to traditional chewers with or without tobacco.
Traditional chewing dates back to 550 BCE
Since time immemorial, arecanut along with other products is being used for chewing throughout the world especially in lndian sub-continent and many parts of southeast Asia. In India, the use of arecanut has been quoted as early as 1300 BCE by Sisu Mayana in ’Anjana Chaitra’ (Bhat and Rao, 19A) and the practice of its chewing to 550 BCE as mentioned by Magha in ’Shishupala Vadha’ (Rao, 1982).