Consumption of areca nut, (an ingredient of paan), even without tobacco, could cause cancer.
This was stated in a recent study published last Saturday in the Indian Journal of Medical and Pediatric Oncology. So far, Indian studies had established that consumption of areca nut with tobacco increased risk of cancer.
“While most studies showed a co-relation between cancer and consumption of tobacco with areca nut, we found cancer patients who consumed only areca nut. These patients did not consume alcohol either, which is another risk factor,” said Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi, who student Dr Sidramesh Muttagi authored the study.
Ten women where studied – head and neck cancer patients at the Tata Memorial Hospital, who had a habit of chewing only areca nut for between six and 50 years. The women were homemakers, aged between 31 and 59 years. They were not well educated and were unaware of the ill-effects of areca nut, found the study.
The study gains importance in the light of the ongoing court case regarding the ban on sale of gutkha and paan masala. “While there is plenty of evidence showing the connection between areca nut with tobacco and cancer, this study could be helpful in court,” said Dr PC Gupta, director, Healis Sekhsaria Institute for Public Health.