“Chewing causes cancer”… Ban on ‘fruit of death’ that killed 30-year-old Chinese singer

(gettyimages)

On the 10th of this month, a Chinese singer in his 30s died of oral cancer.

According to the People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Communist Party, on the 22nd, the market supervision and administration centers of Yiwu, Zhejiang Province and Nanchang, Jiangxi Province, banned the sale of processed foods called betel nut, a fruit known was causing oral cancer on the 20th, and ordered the products displayed on the shelves to be removed.

Following the ban on the sale of betel nut food in Junyi, Guizhou Province, in May, more than 10 places have imposed bans so far.

Betel nut has been used in some Asian countries, including China, as a medicine to treat gastrointestinal diseases, poor circulation, and to fight parasites. Many people chew it like gum because it has a stimulating effect.

However, this fruit is internationally classified as a class 1 carcinogen. The World Health Organization (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer designated betel nut as a class 1 carcinogen in 2003, and in 2017, China designated also arecholine which is contained in betel nut as a substance that causes oral cancer.

Chinese singer Bo Song (博松), who died of mouth cancer from eating betel nuts. It shows a tumor that swells like a ball on the cheek.

In particular, the death of Chinese singer Bo Song (36), who was suffering from oral cancer on the 10th, was a shock to the local community. Before his death, he revealed that he had enjoyed chewing betel nut for six years and warned, “I want to let you know how scary betel nut is through my experience.”

A survey of 8,000 oral cancer patients in Hunan Province a few years ago found that 90% of them had eaten betel nuts. China banned TV ads for betel nut products in September last year. However, as consumption in rural areas did not decrease, even the local governments took action.

It was found that 67 tonnes of betel nut had been imported into Korea over the past four years, causing controversy in the National Assembly in October last year.

Park Tae-geun, reporter for Donga.com ptk@donga.com

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