HCFI urges Minister Hegde to reconsider submission of document favoring health benefits of areca nut

Health Care, Heart Care Foundation of India, Social Health Community Comments Off

Areca nut or betel quid chewing is a strong contributing factor for oral cancer

New Delhi, 03rd April 2018: In a recent development, the Union Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Anantkumar Hegde will be meeting the Union Health Minister to submit documents that support the medicinal properties of arecanut. The Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI), however, has come out in strong opposition of such a submission as chewing areca nut or betel quid is linked to many cancers.

Betel nut chewing, which is widespread in certain regions of Asia, is an independent risk factor for the development of squamous cell head and neck cancer.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee Dr K K Aggarwal, President Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI) said, “Betel nut is one of the most popular psychoactive substances in the world, in the fourth place after nicotine, alcohol, and caffeine. Among its many side effects is cancer and the WHO has also officially classified it as a carcinogen. Those who regularly use betel nut stand a higher risk for oral submucous fibrosis. This is an incurable condition which can lead to stiffness in the mouth and eventually the loss of jaw movement. Some other side effects include gum irritation and tooth decay. In regular users, it can cause the teeth to become permanently stained deep red or even black.”

Quids are usually held in the mouth for about 20 to 25 minutes. Some people the quid in the space between the teeth and cheek (mandibular groove) for many hours during sleep. Cancer risk is higher when combined with cigarettes or chewing tobacco.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, said, “Many chewable preparations including betel quid, gutka, and pan masala are widely marketed and consumed in countries like ours. Many of these preparations are not appropriately labeled and do not carry any potential health risks messages. As a person in the position to influence the masses, we deem it necessary and urge Mr Hegde to look into the matter and research well before making such a move. The fact that areca nut is accessible by children as well makes this all the more necessary.”

Some tips from HCFI to prevent oral cancer

  • Don’t use tobacco in any form. If you use tobacco, quit.
  • Limit alcohol to no more than one drink per day if you’re a woman or two drinks per day if you’re a man
  • Stay out of the sun, especially between 10 am and 4 pm when sunlight is strongest
  • Always use lip balm with SPF 30 or higher
  • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables