Researchers from the Department of Medical Research (Lower Myanmar) found Aflatoxin B1, which can cause liver cancer and genetic mutation, in betel nuts, also known as areca nuts, which many people in Myanmar chew with tobacco and betel leaves.
Aflatoxin B1 is an aflatoxin produced by Aspergillus flavus and A. parasiticus found in tropical regions.
The researchers took random samples of areca nuts and pieces of areca nuts, commonly known as paan, vendors to test them using the Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA). The test found 10-12ppb (parts per billion) of Aflatoxin B1 in the areca nuts.
Consuming even small amounts of Aflatoxin B1 can destroy cells and cause liver cancer in long term.
Myanmar has the world’s highest rate of areca consumption, followed by India, Bangladesh and Nepal. 51 per cent of the males over 15 and 16 per cent of females are addicted to paan.
A major cause of oral cancer in Myanmar is chewing paan, which mainly occurs in people between the ages of 45 and 65.