Areca nut chewing is associated with metabolic syndrome

May 27, 2013 Off By Web Desk

NAUNDERO: Areca nut Chaalia chewing is very common in Pakistan and it’s a major risk factor of causing cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Addition of different chemicals in it causes mouth cancer which occurs as a result of genetic changes that take place due to the chewing habits of arecanut, paan and gutka.

Areca nut chewing increases the likelihood of having metabolic syndrome among healthy individuals, according to a recent research from the Dow University of Health Sciences which is published in the ‘Nutrition Journal’. These views were expressed by Prof. Dr. M. Umer Farooq, Pro Vice Chancellor, DUHS and Dr Kashif Shafique, Assistant Professor of Community Medicine at the Dow University of Health Sciences at a Press Briefing held at Dow Medical College.

Prof. Umer Farooq further said that people using arecanut, paan and gutka are about 8 to 9 times more likely to develop oral cancers as compared to nonusers. These are also extremely addictive substances with a high rate of use in younger age groups. Like many other cancers in Pakistan, oral cancers are observed in a relatively younger population. The fungus cannot be seen, as arecanut and gutka marketed in the city are coated with non-edible colours and sweeteners, which are extremely injurious to human health. If a person finds that mouth sores are not going away after 15 days of treatment, they should immediately consult a specialist. Similarly, if someone has lump in their mouth, they should immediately consult a doctor. Previously, cancer was prevalent in people more than 50 years of age but, now children as young as 12 to 15 years have oral cancer as they chew arecanut, gutka and mainpuri.

Dr Kashif Shafique, Assistant Professor of Community Medicine at the Dow University of Health Sciences in his address said that Areca nut, a commonly chewed product in our country, has been found associated with metabolic syndrome – a group of risk factors which are well known to cause cardiovascular diseases. Areca nut chewing increases the likelihood of having metabolic syndrome among healthy individuals, according to a recent research from the Dow University of Health Sciences which is published in the ‘Nutrition Journal’.

He informed that the study assessed the health of more than 1000 healthy individuals in Karachi. The study found that although the harmful metabolic effects were evident among both, males and females, but the females had much higher risk of developing these conditions when compared with males. Previous research from another country has shown that areca nut chewing increases the chances of death due to cardiovascular diseases compared to those who do not chew these products, however, the exact mechanism was not well understood. Our findings add to the evidence that areca nut chewing may increases the risk factors of cardiovascular disease among its chewers which ultimately lead to higher death rates among these individuals.

“Our study also showed that the risk of adverse health outcomes among areca nut chewers was even higher for those who were using areca with other tobacco additives and flavouring agents. However, further research is needed to understand that what components either the nuts or the additives have more harmful biological and metabolic effects.” The study collected the data from more than 1000 healthy individuals using a community based sample.