Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Betel nut use linked to HIV

Betel nut use linked to HIV

Betel nut use linked to HIV

120227_03

Regular users of betel nut quid – a combination of tobacco, areca nut, betel leaf and slaked lime that is chewed – could be more susceptible to infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, dengue fever and typhoid, according to a press release issued by the World Health Organisation alongside a new study yesterday.

Pha Lina/Phnom Penh Post
Chea Eam, 64, chews betel nut yesterday in Kandal province.

The new research conducted by the WHO and US-based Loma Linda University and published in the International Journal of Infectious Disease examined the association between betel nut and infectious disease in users.

“Findings from this study raise the possibility that using betel nut quid increases the risk for transmission of infectious disease through various pathways, such as suppression of the immune system, or by providing an oral route of entry for disease pathogens,” a press release accompanying the study said.

The results among betel nut users indicated that they were 2.6 times more likely to report a diagnosis of HIV/AIDS compared to non-betel nut users, 2.4 times more likely to have had dengue fever, 1.5 times more likely to report a diagnosis of tuberculosis and 1.48 times more likely to have had typhoid.

This led researchers to determine a “strong association between betel quid use and infectious disease”.

“These associations were found to be stronger among women, who are the primary users of betel nut quid in Cambodia,” the press release read.

Women often started using betel nut during pregnancy to stem the symptoms of morning sickness the study found.

The study used data from the National Adult Tobacco Survey of Cambodia from 2005-06, which involved interviews with 13,988 adults nationwide.

National Professional Officer for Tobacco Free Initiative and Health Promotion at the WHO, Yel Daravuth, who also co-authored the study, said it provided another strong case to fight tobacco use.

“If we help people to stop chewing tobacco, we also help [to] prevent people from getting infectious disease,” he said.

The NATSC 2011 found that more than half a million women chew betel nut.

Chea Eam, 64, from Kandal province who works as  farmer, said she could not stop chewing betel nut even though she was told she had cancer and kidney stones by her doctor four months ago.

“I have reduced the amount of betel nut I chew because I suffer from serious stomach aches, but I think that my illness is not caused by chewing betel nut,” she said.

Representatives from the Health Ministry were not available for comment.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

  • Breaking: PM says prominent human rights NGO ‘must close’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the Interior Ministry to investigate the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and potentially close it “because they follow foreigners”, appearing to link the rights group to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party's purported “revolution”. The CNRP - the

  • Rainsy and Sokha ‘would already be dead’: PM

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday appeared to suggest he would have assassinated opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha had he known they were promising to “organise a new government” in the aftermath of the disputed 2013 national elections. In a clip from his speech

  • Massive ceremony at Angkor Wat will show ‘Cambodia not in anarchy’: PM

    Government officials, thousands of monks and Prime Minister Hun Sen himself will hold a massive prayer ceremony at Angkor Wat in early December to highlight the Kingdom’s continuing “peace, independence and political stability”, a spectacle observers said was designed to disguise the deterioration of

  • PM tells workers CNRP is to blame for any sanctions

    In a speech to workers yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen pinned the blame for any damage inflicted on Cambodia’s garment industry by potential economic sanctions squarely on the opposition party. “You must remember clearly that if the purchase orders are reduced, it is all