Betel or areca nut chewing has been linked to oral and oropharyngeal cancer, oral lesions, oral lukoplakia and submucous fibrosis, gum disease, along with cancer of the pharynx and oesophagus. But despite awareness of the health risks, the practice persists especially in regions of the Western Pacific.
A survey conducted among current and former betel nut chewers revealed deep sociocultural ties which perpetuate the practice. Betel nut is integral to traditional ceremonies and encouraged by older members. Many respondents cited social pressure and acceptance as reasons to why they started chewing betel nuts. Its cultural significance is even seen in their beauty standards, as Guamanian women with tell-tale stained teeth are seen as more attractive.
To read more of the survey’s results click here.