Betel nut chewing is a highly addictive and narcotic substance that is consumed by more than 600 million people worldwide. Despite much research revealing its carcinogenic effects, the practice is still prevalent, especially in parts of Southeast Asia, Micronesia, South Asia, and parts of southern China. Many cite cultural and religious ties as reasons for its practice, in Guam, it is even considered a standard of beauty for would-be brides.
Various studies have identified betel or areca nuts as having strong links to cancer of the mouth and esophagus, other adverse effects include the brain, heart, lungs, gastrointestinal tract, and reproductive organs. It affects the immune system, leading to suppression of T-cell activity, and has harmful effects on the fetus during pregnancy.
Despite this knowledge, public awareness is still low, with no standardized regulations or warning labels. Fortunately, a group of researchers has initiated a comprehensive review of all published studies that have highlighted the adverse effects of betel nut chewing.
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