Arecanut, Areca catechu L. as such is not carcinogenic in normal dose if chewed without tobacco: compilation of research work
S Keshava Bhat, Ashwin Devasya, Mythri Sarpangala
Review of literature on the health effects of arecanut chewing shows that it is not carcinogenic in normal dose. It was reported that an adult human being masticate up to 0.5g of arecanut/kg bw/day. Animal studies have revealed that feeding of processed arecanut (dried or boiled) at 1.0g/kg body weight/day and pan masala up to 1.67g/kg bw/day were safe for mice. Arecanut paste when applied to bare skin at 1.5g /kg bw/day was safe for hamsters. Feeding of arecoline, the physiologically most active chemical compound of arecanut, was found safe for mice at 100mg/kg bw/day. The LD50 value for arecanut extract was reported to be >15, 000mg/kg bw for rats. The betel quid at a concentration of 0.1ml of 2% solution without tobacco was also found safe for mice. The arecanut and betel quid extracts without tobacco were even reported to retard the development of tumors in mice and cure breast cancer cells, gastric cancer cells and liver cancer cells in human being. Several population studies carried out in India and abroad on the effects of chewing betel quid without tobacco did not show any significant harmful effects on human health. It is really sad to note that such reports were sidelined by most of the researchers and reviewers.