Betel nut chewers urged to participate in study

(Commonwealth Cancer Association) — The World Health Organization has classified betel nut or areca nut as a human carcinogen. There is sufficient evidence that areca nut causes cancer and adding tobacco to it increases your risk.

The U54 University of Guam/University of Hawaii Cancer Center Partnership to Reduce Health Disparities, funded by the National Cancer Institute, is conducting the Betel Nut Intervention Trial or BENIT to test the effectiveness of an areca nut cessation program adapted from a tobacco cessation model.

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Cancer Research Steering Committee meeting participants pose for a photo.  CCA photo

According to Dr. Yvette Paulino, one of the principal investigators of the BENIT, areca nut is chewed by 11 percent of the population in Guam and 24 percent of the population in the CNMI.

“With tobacco-related cancers leading the cancer cases in the U.S.-Affiliated Pacific Islands, areca nut chewers who add tobacco will benefit from a cessation program and the BENIT offers an intervention opportunity,” said Dr. Paulino.

Juan L. Babauta, executive director of the Commonwealth Cancer Association, recently spoke at the U54 UOG/UHCC Partnership’s annual Program Steering Committee meeting at the UOG.

Babauta provided a compelling presentation to scientists and researchers from the UOG, the UHCC, the Program Steering Committee, and the NCI on the realities and the burden of cancer, and its toll on patients, families and the community.

The U54 grant is currently supporting the BENIT study on Guam and Saipan. The CCA has been a significant and essential partner of the Saipan BENIT Team through its advocacy in promoting greater awareness and prevention of oral cancer as a result of areca nut use, as well as recruitment for the BENIT study.

The CCA and the Saipan BENIT Team encourage residents who chew areca nut with tobacco and want to quit, to participate in the BENIT study.

Those interested must be at least 18 years of age and chew betel nut with tobacco at least three times a week. For more information please contact CCA at 682-0050 or via e-mail at ccamarianas@gmail.com or log on to www.ccamarianas.org

The Commonwealth Cancer Association Inc. is a community-based nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting cancer awareness and prevention, providing patient support services, and serving as the liaison and advocate for cancer issues in the CNMI and the region. The CCA began as a coalition of volunteers who are committed to reducing the burden of cancer in the Northern Mariana Islands. These volunteers serve on the CCA board, and committees, help raise funds, and participate in training, outreach, and patient support programs. The CCA’s programs and services are fully supported by the Marianas March Against Cancer and the cancer fund earmarked by Public Law 18-64. MMAC, the annual signature fundraising event of the CCA, receives financial contributions from corporations, families, and individuals.