Nothing to smile about: Asia’s deadly addiction to betel quids

This isn’t really Mormon-related, but it does have to do with something I saw on my mission. I served in Taiwan, and at the time there was this gross thing that we called Beetle Nut (or at least that is how I thought it was spelled) that taxi drivers would chew. Apparently it gave them a bit of a “buzz”. It was essentially a stimulant. Although not “officially” mentioned in the Word of Wisdom, members and investigators were taught not to chew it.

Well, apparently it is actually called Betel Nut (or Areca Nut), and they are finding now that it leads to cancer.

CNN has a nice article about it:

Heavy users of betel quids reveal their addiction when they smile. Their teeth are stained a reddish-black, dyed from years of chewing potent parcels of areca nuts and tobacco, wrapped in a lime-coated betel leaf.

“Some people after they eat they’re drinking coffee or tea; always after eating I’m chewing the betel nut. I like it,” says Myo Min Than, a 28-year-old noodle seller at a market in Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon.

Like tea or coffee, betel quids — or “nuts” as they’re often referred to — give users a lift. But unlike tea or coffee, they also give them oral cancer.

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