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PLoS One. 2013 Aug 5;8(8):e70679. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0070679. Print 2013.

Chewing betel quid and the risk of metabolic disease, cardiovascular disease, and all-cause mortality: a meta-analysis.

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Department of Diabetes and Metabolic Diseases, Graduate School of Medicine, University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan.



Betel nut (Areca nut) is the fruit of the Areca catechu tree. Approximately 700 million individuals regularly chew betel nut (or betel quid) worldwide and it is a known risk factor for oral cancer and esophageal cancer. We performed a meta-analysis to assess the influence of chewing betel quid on metabolic diseases, cardiovascular disease, and all-cause mortality.


We searched Medline, Cochrane Library, Web of Science, and Science Direct for pertinent articles (including the references) published between 1951 and 2013. The adjusted relative risk (RR) and 95% confidence interval were calculated using the random effect model. Sex was used as an independent category for comparison.


Of 580 potentially relevant studies, 17 studies from Asia (5 cohort studies and 12 case-control studies) covering 388,134 subjects (range: 94 to 97,244) were selected. Seven studies (N = 121,585) showed significant dose-response relationships between betel quid consumption and the risk of events. According to pooled analysis, the adjusted RR of betel quid chewers vs. non-chewers was 1.47 (P<0.001) for obesity (N = 30,623), 1.51 (P = 0.01) for metabolic syndrome (N = 23,291), 1.47 (P<0.001) for diabetes (N = 51,412), 1.45 (P = 0.06) for hypertension (N = 89,051), 1.2 (P = 0.02) for cardiovascular disease (N = 201,488), and 1.21 (P = 0.02) for all-cause mortality (N = 179,582).


Betel quid chewing is associated with an increased risk of metabolic disease, cardiovascular disease, and all-cause mortality. Thus, in addition to preventing oral cancer, stopping betel quid use could be a valuable public health measure for metabolic diseases that are showing a rapid increase in South-East Asia and the Western Pacific.

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