A new study, presented today at the American Association for Cancer Research Third Annual International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research, now suggests that the increased incidence may be linked to increased domestic production of a popular legal stimulant in Asia called betel quid.
"Recent findings have spurred a great debate about whether the government should curb the expansion of domestic betel quid cultivation," said Dr. Chiun Hsu, from the Department of Oncology, National Taiwan University Hospital. "It is our hope that these findings will prove helpful in shaping future public health policy on this issue."
Chewing betel quid, traditionally practiced in many parts of Asia and in Asian-immigrants around the world, can be likened to tobacco use in the states. It is often rolled like a cigar or intricately folded and generally consists of a betel palm leaf spread with lime paste (calcium hydroxide) wrapped around a slice of areca nut. Betel quid is chewed for many reasons, including for its stimulant effects, to satisfy hunger, to sweeten the breath, and as a social or cultural practice.
However, betel quid also is considered a nuisance in Asia where the reddish juice, generated by the act of chewing betel quid, can be found all over the ground and on public buildings. Also considered a major public health risk, it is believed to be a leading cause of mouth cancer in this part of the world.
In this study, researchers used the age-period-cohort (APC) model to examine the incidence trends for men and women in Taiwan of nasopharyngeal carcinoma versus head and neck cancer.
Contact: Warren Froelich
American Association for Cancer Research