Jacobs Journal of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine

Betel Nut Consumption in Yap, Federated States of Micronesia: Early Age Introduction and Routine Practice

Published on: 2018-06-25

Abstract

Betel nut (BN), the fruit from the palm Areca catechu, is the fourth most commonly used psychoactive drug worldwide. BN’s harmful effects include an increased risk of oral and upper aerodigestive cancers. Current BN consumption, preparation, age of use and health attitudes among the Yapese population, which has a strong cultural tie to BN was assessed. Surveys were conducted by trained Public Health staff during the Fall 2014, using a standardized instrument. Of 700 Yapese randomly interviewed, 88.5% are current users with the majority (87.9%) aware of harmful effects of BN. Yapese are introduced to BN at a mean are of 13.9 + 5.8 years (range 2 to 50 years) and begin routine daily use at 17.8 + 6.1 years (range 2 to 53 years), with no significant gender difference. Culturally sensitive educational efforts need to be directed towards the young to reduce adverse health risks associated with BN chewing.

Keywords

Areca Nut; Betel Nut; Carcinogen; Culture; Education; Federated States of Micronesia; Tradition; Yap