The National, Monday October 28th, 2013
CANCER cases in the country are soaring because of betel nut chewing by the people, a dentist says.
Dr Matupi Apaio, the Oro-Maxillo-Facial clinic chief dentist, told a public health event last Friday that 98% of mouth cancer patients chewed buai.
Friday was No Betel Nut-Chewing Day”.
He said the health department was promoting healthy mouth and awareness of the risk of developing mouth cancer.
He said betel nut chewing had become rampant and practised in all communities. In the past, he said betel nut use was restricted in villages to certain groups of people at traditional events only.
“Children as young as five are chewing betel nut which has tremendously increased the chances of developing mouth cancer at an early age,” Matupi said.
“Mouth cancer is deadly and prevention by avoiding the risk factors is important. It is the main cause of mouth cancer in PNG.”
Matupi said the risk of cancer was greatly increased when combined with smoking and excessive use of alcohol.
More than 140 patients were reported to the Oro-Maxillo-Facial clinic between 2010 and 2012.
However, he said others treated at the Port Moresby General Hospital were not recorded and the number was growing rapidly.
Matupi said 98% of mouth cancer patients were betel nut chewers.
He told the people at the event that oral health was just as important as general health.
“It comprises some of the very vital body structures that we use every day for speech, eating, digestion and good looks which contributes to the general health and our wellbeing,” Matupi said.