Betel nut is often used in Chinese traditional medicine to treat diseases, various gastrointestinal disorders and jaundice. Modern pharmacology has also shown that betel nuts can be harmful and increase the risk of cancers, obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and chronic kidney disease. A recent study conducted by scientists in Hainan, China focused on microbiota in the intestines and how betel nut consumption promotes and detracts digestive function.
Using 34 participants from Hainan, the team collected and analyzed fecal samples from the long-term betel nut chewers and found an increased presence of beneficial microbes such as Firmicutes, Bacteroidetes, Actinobacteria, and Proteobacteria. Interestingly the results also showed a difference in microbial diversity and composition between male and female participants. The female group samples were found to have a significant amount of Firmicutes and Euryarchaeota while the male group samples recorded a higher amount of Actinobacteria and Cyanobacteria. This suggests that the differences between gut microbiota of males and females could be a factor in the susceptibility of sex-specific diseases.
You can read more about this research here.