Risks associated with betel quid chewing
Curr Issues Pharm Med Sci., Vol. 30, No. 1, 24-26
Mateusz P. Kister1*, Katarzyna Borowska2, Karolina A. Kister1,
Agnieszka Wojtowicz2, Barbara Jodlowska-Jedrych2
Betel quid is one of the most commonly used psychoactive substances in the world, especially among Asian communities, just after caffeine, nicotine and alcohol. The mixture that is chewed usually contains betel leaves, areca nut and slaked lime, nonetheless, its ingredients and the preparation manner tend to vary. Areca nut contains four main alkaloids - arecoline, arecaidyne, guvacine and guvacoline that are responsible for its psychoactive effects. The act of betel chewing might have a negative impact on an overall health and can cause pathological lesions or diseases to develop and/or progress, both directly and indirectly. Also, it may happen that the negative impact of betel chewing on one system might have indirect harmful influence on another. Still an association has been drawn between betel chewing and the presence of metabolic diseases, cancers and proteinuria, as well as cardiovascular disorders - including hypertension, chronic renal failure, diabetics type II and obesity. Likewise, it is a known risk factor in the development of oral and esophagus cancer. Moreover, a correlation between betel chewing and smoking exists in that betel chewing might theoretically hinder the abandonment of tobacco smoking. Tissues of oral cavity and the upper part of digestive system are additionally exposed to the mechanical injuries caused by the areca nut. Therefore, they tend to be the most prone to be pathologically affected by betel quid chewing.