Jacobs Journal of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine

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

*Rosemary B Duda
Department Of Communicable Diseases And Control, United States

*Corresponding Author:
Rosemary B Duda
Department Of Communicable Diseases And Control, United States
Email:rduda@bidmc.harvard.edu

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

Introduction

The fruit of the Areca catechu palm is commonly chewed in India, Southeast Asia and the western and south Pacific regions for its mild psychomactive effects such as feelings of euphoria, well-being and heightened alertness [1]. The areca nut can be chewed alone (Figure 1A and Figure 1B), although it is more commonly wrapped in the leaf of the Piper betle vine earning it the name of betel nut or betel quid, with additives such as slaked lime (calcium hydroxide), tobacco, and spices to enhance its absorption, psychoactive effects, and taste [2].