Betel nuts in Taiwan

Found an interesting story about betel nut consumption in Taiwan, and felt it was my duty to share the link to a page with photos of the salesladies...

But, according to Taiwan's health officials, quoted by Bloomberg, chewing addictive betel nuts, the seed of the betel palm, increases the risk of mouth cancer:

Officials are encouraging farmers to plant alternatives to the $359 million annual crop, urging about 1.6 million users to quit. "We aren't very optimistic," said Wu Chien-yuan, a Health Department section chief in Taipei. "We'll focus on preventing people from starting." Betel, or areca, nuts increase the heart rate and induce a mild sense of excitement, said Hahn Liang-Jiunn, an oral and facial surgeon at Taipei's National Taiwan University Hospital. As many as 400 million people from East Africa to Indonesia chew the seeds and leaves regularly, the British Medical Journal reported in April 2002.


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