How dangerous… China bans the sale of ‘fruit of death’ betel nut

◀ anchor ▶

There is a tree fruit that a singer in China who recently died of oral cancer advised not to eat until just before she died.

It is the fruit of the betel tree, which is famous for natural plant gum.

Although it is called the ‘fruit of death’ because it contains a first-class carcinogen, consumption in China has rather increased, and a large-scale sales regulation has recently begun.

It is said that dozens of tons of betel nut were imported into Korea as herbal medicine.

Correspondent Lee Hae-in from Beijing reports.

◀ Report ▶

A betel nut product store in Beijing.

Products range from individually packaged products to large packaging products.

Betel nut cut and dried betel nut has a stimulating effect, so it has been used as a snack in China, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia like chewing gum or cigarettes.

[빈랑 판매 직원]

“It has a stimulating effect and aids digestion. Betel nut is plant gum.”

The Chinese government has recently entered into extensive sales restrictions on this betel nut edible product. This is because of the carcinogens contained in these fruits.

This man, who has swollen cheeks due to oral cancer, is a Chinese singer, Bo Song.

Bosong, who died on the 10th, announced the danger of betel nut through SNS until just before he died.

He chewed betel nut like gum for 6 years, but it was so addictive that he couldn’t stop.

[보송/중국 가수, 지난 6월]

“I want to tell you from my experience that betel nut is really scary, and if you have a friend who likes betel nut, you should stay away from it and cherish life.”

Arecholine contained in betel nut is a class 1 carcinogen designated by the World Health Organization.

A survey of 8,000 patients with oral cancer in Hunan Province, China’s representative betel nut region, found that 90% of them consumed betel nut.

Nevertheless, as betel nut consumption continued to rise, Guizhou, Zhejiang, and Jiangxi provinces initiated regulations, including banning the sale of processed betel nut and collecting products displayed on the counter.

The Chinese government previously banned the promotion of betel nut in September last year.

[CCTV 보도/2021년 9월 17일]

“(National Optoelectronics Administration) notified that it would stop promoting betel nut and its products through radio, TV, and the Internet…”

Despite this risk, betel nut is classified as a herbal medicine in Korea, and 67 tons of it was imported without any special sanctions over the past four years from 2018, as revealed in a state audit last year.

This is Lee Hae-in from MBC News in Beijing.

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