Is the traditional chewing of Betel nut killing Papua New Guinea?

Chewing betel nuts could be driving up mouth cancer rates in Papua New Guinea:

  • Image copyright – Kathleen Prior – – – – In Papua New Guinea, the popularity of the psychoactive betel nut is on the rise.
  • Image copyright – Kathleen Prior – – – – – Image caption – – The sale of betel nut is a lucrative business – – – – Chewed then spat out, it creates a sense of euphoria and alertness.Customary practiceAt an annual cultural festival in East New Britain province, the…
  • Image copyright – Kathleen Prior – – – – – Image caption – – Many start chewing betel nut from when they are young kids – – – – “If my children want to chew buai, they can.
  • Image copyright – Kathleen Prior – – – – – Image caption – – Betel nut consumption has seen a sharp rise – – – – Dr Yvonne Sapuri, who diagnoses approximately two new cases of oral cancer weekly at the Kimbe General Hospital in West New Britain, fears these…
  • Image copyright – Kathleen Prior – – – – – Image caption – – Herself selling betel nut, Winifred agrees people should be educated on the health dangers – – – – “When my children were just six or seven they already knew how to chew,” the mother-of-four continues.

With soaring rates of mouth cancer, PNG is struggling to control its people’s addiction to betel nut.

Image copyright

Kathleen Prior

In Papua New Guinea, the popularity of the psychoactive betel nut is on the rise. With mouth cancer rates soaring, the nation is struggling to control its growing addiction. Once reserved for sacred events, now almost half of Papua New Guineans chew betel nut. It is common for children as young as six to chew it, and addicts admit using the drug every day from morning to night. The chewing of betel nut, the seed of the Areca palm, is common across Asia and the Pacific. In Papua New Guinea, where it is known locally as “buai”, it is consumed with a mustard stick dipped in slaked lime powder.

Image copyright

Kathleen Prior

Image caption

The sale of betel nut is a lucrative business

Chewed then spat out, it creates a sense of euphoria and alertness.Customary practiceAt an annual cultural festival in East New Britain province, the tell-tale signs of betel nut chewing are ubiquitous. Spittle and shells litter the ground, as men, women and older children laugh and chatter with lips stained bright red. A clan from the Baining…

Is the traditional chewing of Betel nut killing Papua New Guinea?