About 600 million people chew betel-quid (Areca catechu). It’s one of the most widely used addictive substances (see map). Some believe that small doses generally lead to euphoria and increased flow of energy, while large doses result in sedation.
There are lots of chewers in Taiwan, so it’s not surprising that researchers at the Kaohsiung Medical University in Taiwan evaluated betel-quid use and its relation to heart disease.
First the details.
More than 1900 adults were studied.
The association of heart disease and betel-quid was adjusted for other risk factors such age, obesity, diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure, and cholesterol levels in the blood.
And the results.
Men were more likely to chew betel-quid.
But women who chewed betel-quid 10 times per day were at greater risk of heart disease.
In this study, betel-quid chewers were younger, drank more, had a lower dietary fruit intake, had a higher Framingham risk score, and had higher serum triglyceride blood concentrations than nonusers.
More information on betel-quid can be found in an earlier study that also confirmed a strong association between alcohol use and betel-quid chewing. In addition, compared to those who never chewed, betel-quid chewers were more likely to be male, obese, of lower education, married, Taiwan aborigines or mixed Taiwan aborigines, and a smoker.
John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.