Chewing betel nut isn’t as common here as it used to be and, to my knowledge, not many people here chew it with tobacco leaves as they do in southeast Asia. There, many users are addicted to that combination, which can create a sense of euphoria and alertness. Strangely enough, scientists at the University of Florida have found that compounds derived from betel nut could help cigarette smokers and betel nut chewers kick their habits.
The researchers say the two addictions share many traits and they want to develop drugs that target both. They’re studying compounds from the areca nut (the scientific name of betel is Areca catechu) to make new molecules that work better than existing smoking-cessation drugs.
“Some new findings say that things we know are bad for our health may actually be helpful. The first bad boy? Chewing betel nut.”
A drug that helps with two different kinds of addiction is really a good thing, but here’s one for you: What if eating chocolate helped prevent and treat diabetes? “Yeah, right!” you say.
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