A Survey of Areca (Betel) Nut Use and Oral Cancer in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands

Ajay M. Narayanan, Ahana Yogesh, Mary P. Chang, Andrey Finegersh, Ryan K. Orosco, William J. Moss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Areca nut use is a cause of higher rates of oral cavity cancer in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). Little is known about patient insights into the risks of areca nut use worldwide. The purpose of this study is to evaluate perceptions of areca nut use and oral cancer among chewers in the CNMI. This is a survey study undertaken at the CNMI's only regional health center-300 adult participants completed a 21-question survey that assessed demographics, chewing behaviors, perceptions of areca nut use and oral cancer, and the willingness to participate in cessation and screening programs. Data was analyzed using chi-squared tests, at a significance value of P < .05. The participant average age was 38, and 41% were male. Almost all (92%) knew that chewing areca nut causes oral cancer, but only 13% correctly identified the actual areca nut as a carcinogen. About half (59%) believed that oral cancer could be treated. Most people (74%) were willing to participate in screening programs for oral cancer. Those who chewed areca nut daily were more likely to be interested in medicated replacement products relative to those who chewed less frequently (P = .048). In conclusion, there are drastic misperceptions about areca nut and oral cancer in the CNMI. Efforts should be made towards promoting awareness of the carcinogenicity of the actual areca nut, and the treatability of oral cancer. Mandated educational warnings should be required with areca nut sales. Further research evaluating substitution methods and screening programs is indicated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)112-116
Number of pages5
JournalHawai'i journal of health & social welfare
Volume79
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • areca nut
  • Micronesia
  • oral cancer
  • perception
  • survey

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