Chewing betel quid, a psychoactive substance, could expose its 600 million users to substances that act as direct carcinogens in the mouth, according to a new study. Betel quid is the fourth most popular psychoactive substance, behind only tobacco, alcohol and caffeine.
Betel quid comprises nuts from the arcea tree and may combine with spices like cardamom or saffron. It’s available in commercial forms and is popular in China, India and throughout Asia. Many studies have shown that chewing it may result in oral cancer and the more recent information suggests that betel quid may become a carcinogen while in the body.
The authors of the recent study looked into the idea that substances in the arcea nut may actually cause cancer without any assistance from the body changing them.
The results showed that compounds in the arcea nut do something to the genetic material. The process is called alkylating. This causes changes that raise the risk of cancer, and the amounts in betel quid are high enough to make an impact.
The best option is for people to stay away from chewing anything that contains betel quid until further research is conducted.