DEAR EDITOR, the chewing of betel nut is a popular habit of many people in the Solomon Islands but there is increasing medical evidence of the habit’s dangerous use in terms of health risks.
Many overseas studies, including those conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) have shown a convincing link between betel nut use and cancer of the mouth and esophagus
Betel nut users are also at higher risk of developing incurable oral submucous fibrosis.
This disease causes stiffness to occur in the mouth and eventually the complete loss of jaw movement.
The regular chewing of betel nut can also cause gum irritation and tooth decay.
Most recent studies conducted in the US by the American Society for Clinical Nutrition found a strong connection between betel nut and increased risk of cardiovascular disease (heart disease) and obesity.
Health organizations and governments around the globe are taking increasing steps to increase awareness of betel nut risks.
Taiwan, for example, fines people there who are found spitting betel nut juice and require them to attend withdrawal classes.
Habits are often difficult to curtail but given the real evidence available of the serious health risks associated with chewing betel nut it is perhaps time for Solomon Islanders to think very carefully of their fondness of regularly chewing betel and think of the implications to their health and well being.