Thu, Dec 04, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Betel nut targeted

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

An anti-betel nut civic group yesterday unveiled a list of the nation’s top three cities and counties for betel nut use in efforts to raise awareness of the link between chewing the nut and oral cancer on Betel Quid Prevention Day.

The survey by the Taiwan Alliance for Areca Nut Control and Oral Cancer Prevention found that Taitung County has the nation’s highest rate of betel nut use, at 27.31 percent, followed by Hualien County at 21.67 percent and Nantou County at 19.95 percent.

The areas with the lowest rates of use were Kinmen County, with 3.5 percent, Taipei, with 6.75 percent, and Hsinchu City, with 7.91 percent, the survey showed.

The alliance has released a similar survey annually on Dec. 3, which was designated “Betel Quid Prevention Day” by the government in 1997 to raise public awareness of the adverse health effects of chewing what are formally known as areca nuts.

Citing statistics compiled by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, Alliance chairman Hahn Liang-jiunn (韓良俊), a professor emeritus at National Taiwan University’s Department of Dentistry, said the number of oral cancer patients in the nation has been on the rise for the past few years, with 6,890 new cases reported in 2011 alone.

“The oral cancer incidence rate in Taiwanese men is nearly 41.47 per 100,000 population and there are currently 40,000 oral cancer patients who require treatment,” Hahn said.

Hahn said it is also worrying that just 47.8 percent of the respondents to a survey conducted by the Health Promotion Administration last year were aware that chewing betel nut can cause cancer, which was lower than 51.54 percent in a similar poll carried out a year earlier.

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