This one-page handout educates people about the potentially harmful health effects of chewing betel nut (Areca), an addictive human carcinogen with serious adverse health risks. It states that betel nut can cause cancer and gum disease, and combining it with tobacco can increase these risks. It clarifies that using betel nut can be dangerous for pregnant women, and that children should not chew it. The document offers advice about the importance of talking with a doctor and dentist about betel nut use and early cancer detection, and provides phone numbers for information about dental care in North Carolina.
This resource was researched, produced, and written by Susan Clifford (MSW, MPH) and Coby Austin (MPH) for the Orange County North Carolina Health Department, and field tested with Karen/Burmese community and local service providers.
The Orange County North Carolina Health Department also offers the Betel Nut Provider Guide, a two-page fact sheet that informs medical and dental health providers about the importance of screening for betel nut use in immigrant and refugee patients from South and Southeast Asia (such as Burma, Thailand, India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Vietnam), as well as parts of East Africa and the tropical Pacific. It provides background information about betel nut, and clarifies that in some countries chewing it is a cultural and social practice among adults, pregnant women, and children. The document explains how betel nut is used, how to tell if someone chews it, and its adverse effects on oral health, increased cancer risks, and pregnancy complications. Advice for what healthcare providers can do is offered, and sample screening questions are provided.
This translation was evaluated by a representative or group from the community for accuracy and cultural relevance.