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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Chewing on supari can get you diabetes

Those who like chewing supari as a mouth freshener now have another disease to worry about apart from cancer. Studies collated recently show that supari, or areca nut, can also cause metabolic syndromes, including obesity and diabetes. 

    "Out of eight studies (conducted at a Saudi university for 6-20 years), two associated areca nut chewing with hyperglycemia and type 2 diabetes, while five reported an association with metabolic syndrome. Four studies related it with obesity and increased body mass index (BMI). Meanwhile, higher triacylglycerol levels were reported in one study among areca nut chewers compared to non-chewers," said the review. 
    According to it, the sample size of the selected studies ranged from 210 to 56,116 individuals (their age range being 15-83 years). The frequency of areca nut chewing reported by the users ranged from 1 to 76 times a day. Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi from Tata Memorial Hospital said, "Many animal studies have shown that feeding areca nuts to young adult mice induces permanent glucose intolerance in a significant proportion of the animals." 
    "The new populationbased studies suggest an independent effect of areca nut chewing on the development of type 2 diabetes. Recent population survey data from UK, Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands strengthen the argument for the diabetogenicity of areca nut use." 
    One of the studies included in the review (published in the medical journal Diabetologia), which was conducted 
in Taiwan in 2004, said an active arecal agent was directly toxic to beta cells, which store and release insulin. "Prevalence of hyperglycaemia was found to be 11.4% in (areca nut) chewers and 8.7% in nonchewers. Moreover, compared to non-chewers, the risk of type 2 diabetes was 1.41 times higher in those who had chewed areca nuts for more than 20 years and 2.02 times higher in those who had chewed more than 20 pieces of areca nuts per day," the study stated. 
    Another study, conducted in London and published in the British Journal of Nutrition showed a direct associ
ation between supari and waist size. 
    Nitrosamines—chemical compounds formed by the areca nut—are harmful for the human metabolic system. Doctors say that since crores of people chew supari in India, it is important to educate consumers and physicians about these associations.



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