December 3 is the Betel Nut Prevention Day. The Health Bureau urges people to avoid chewing betel nuts and chewers to receive an oral examination once every 2 years, because the arecaidine and arecoline in betel nuts are carcinogenic substances and because Taichung is ranked 4th in male oral cancer in Taiwan and 9 out 10 oral cancer patients have a habit of chewing betel nuts.
It is confirmed by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in 2003 that betel nut is a group-1 carcinogen. Meanwhile, the statistics for 10 most common causes of cancer death in 2014 published by the Ministry of Health and Welfare also shows that Taichung’s male oral cancer is ranked 4th in Taiwan, while researchers point out that chewing betel nuts is the main cause of oral cancer as 9 out 10 oral cancer patients have a habit of chewing betel nuts.
Health Bureau pointed out that t the chance of a betel nut chewer to suffer from oral cancer is 28 times of the average person, 89 times if a betel nut chewer also smokes, and 123 times if a betel nut chewer also smokes and drinks.
In addition, the arecaidine in betel nut produces euphoria, happiness, dependence, more saliva and heart palpitations in a chewer and continual betel nut chewing leads to physical and psychological addiction to such a substance and if an addict stops chewing betel nuts, he or she suffers from such withdrawal symptoms as sleep disorder, mood swing, and anxiety.
Xu Yong-nian (徐永年), Director-general of Health Bureau urges betel nut chewers to quit the habit for the sake of self-image and prevention of oral cancer. He also reminds people who chew betel nuts or smoke to receive an oral examination once every two years.