Elemental composition of betel nut and associated chewing materials

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Abstract

Betel nut chewing (Areca catechu), whether plain or wrapped insidea betel leaf ‘quid’ together with other substances including tobacco,has been reported as a cause of the high incidence of oral and oesophagealcancers in Asian communities worldwide. Chewing of such substances resultsin the formation of nitrosamines, some of which may be diabetogenic to man.The incidence of Type 2 diabetes is particularly prevalent amongst Asian immigrantsliving in the UK and as part of a larger study we have analysed a number ofpopular betel nut based chewing materials to determine their elemental composition.Instrumental neutron activation analysis was used for determination of elementalconcentrations of short-lived radionuclides. Ag, Al, Br, Ca, Cl, Cu, Dy, K,Mg, Mn, Na, Ti, and V were detected, some of which are implicated in diabetes.Concentrations of these, except for Ag, Dy and Ti, are reported and comparedwith values found in betel-nut and chewing materials from Taiwan. It is indicatedthat for certain elements the amount ingested by betel-nut chewers may bea significant fraction of their daily dietary intake.