Research News

Betel quid chewing is responsible for half of oral cancer cases in India, finds study

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f7536 (Published 16 December 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f7536
  1. Cheryl Travasso
  1. 1Mumbai

Eliminating consumption of betel quids in India could halve the country’s burden of oral cancer, preventing more than 37 000 cases a year, a study has concluded.1

Oral cancers account for the highest cancer related mortality among men aged 30-69 in India.2 Chewing of the betel quid (often referred to as “paan”) is fairly common; the quid is usually made up of areca nut, catechu, slaked lime, and often tobacco, which are placed in a betel leaf and folded into the characteristic triangular shape. Chewing paan releases carcinogenic nitrosamines from the areca nut that can cause pre-neoplastic changes.3

To quantify the cancer risk of betel quid …

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