Small nut posing serious health risk to Asia

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Nut is linked to tens of thousands of deaths
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Small nut posing serious health risk to Asia
The betel nut became popular for its warming and stimulating properties people feel when they chew on them. Despite the spark, the nut can have dangerous and sometimes deadly side effects.
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This small nut is linked to tens of thousands of deaths.

The betel nut is harvested across Asia and, according to the BBC, almost a tenth of the world's population consumes it.

The nut became popular for its warming and stimulating properties people feel when they chew on them. Despite the spark, the nut can have dangerous and sometimes deadly side effects.

So bad in fact that countries like India and Taiwan are trying to prevent people from buying them.

The nuts contain cancer-causing ingredients and are sometimes sold laced with carcinogens.

Some 5,400 Taiwanese citizens are diagnosed with oral cancer each year and about 90 percent of cases are linked to chewing betel nuts.

According to Healthline, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration doesn't believe betel nuts are safe and has an import alert on any products containing betel nut. The World Health Organization also has an action plan designed to reduce betel nut use in the Western Pacific.

But the betel nut is more than just a centuries-old habit: People give them to each other as gifts to build friendships, as wedding gifts and they are even placed at grave sites as offerings to the deceased.

Several countries have taken to launching campaigns to raise awareness about the dangers of chewing betel nuts. But it is no easy task.

CNN reports the betel nuts' addictive properties have made it the fourth most commonly used psychoactive substance after tobacco, alcohol and caffeinated drinks. '

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