UOG Cancer Researcher Studying Link Between Betel Nut & Oral Cancer


Guam- Research efforts continue at the University of Guam’s Cancer Research Center over the link between Betel Nut chewing and oral cancers.

UOG Associate Professor Dr. Yvette Paulino Monday spoke to members of the Rotary Club of Northern Guam about the center’s progress, particularly on the link between oral cancer and betel nut. She said the cancer center has been collecting information on betel use among 300 study participants from Guam and the CNMI.

Paulino points out that oral cancer is the 6th leading cancer worldwide and one of the top 3 cancers in countries with betel nut chewers. But, she says  betel nut is not even the proper term. What most chewers put in their mouth is actually the Areca nut. She explains it’s commonly called betel nut because people chew it with a betel nut leaf or a pepper leaf, and it was assumed that they were chewing betel nut.

“So it’s called the Areca Nut. Only when you eat it with the betel leaf, it’s called…it’s not even called betel nut. It’s called betel quid” said Paulino. “And the quid is when you take the nut and add the ingredients in it and you wrap it or eat it with the leaf and it becomes a betel quid.”

Areca nut or betel quid has been classified as a human carcinogen. Paulino adds this chewing has been shown to be associated with asthma, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, obesity and metabolic syndrome.

For more on the Cancer Research Center and its partnership with Hawaii, log on the University of Guam website.