KARACHI: Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) on Monday appreciated the Punjab government for banning sale and consumption of betel nut (Chalia) in the province besides deciding to punish

Violators.

Pakistan Medical Association’s Secretary General Dr SM Qaisar Sajjad in a statement said it was the need of the time to take such steps because the number of cases of oral cancer and sub-mucous fibrosis (SMF) had been increasing geometrically in Pakistan. PMA believes that all other provinces should also follow this exemplary step and immediately impose ban on Chalia, he hoped.

The Sub-mucous Fibrosis is very common in teenagers, particularly school and college going students. This is non-treatable disease in which the Mucosa of the oral cavity is being Fibrosed resulting in the limitation of the opening of the mouth and severe burning in mouth.

He said PMA had been continuously raising its voice for the prevention of oral cancer and Sub-mucous Fibrosis. The betel nut is the main cause of oral cancer and Sub-mucous Fibrosis. About 122 brands of Chalia (Sweet Supari) are easily available everywhere, which is prepared by artificial color and artificial sugar. It is proven that artificial color is a carcinogen (cancer). Gutka is a more hazardous item freely available and prepared with Chalia and other hazardous chemicals.

Dr Qaisar Sajjad said: “It is very important to note that Chalia is not growing in Pakistan, but the fungal infected Chalia is being imported. Any fungal-infected food eaten for a long time can cause liver cancer. It is also proven clinically that juice of the good quality Chalia is carcinogen and when it is mixed with other hazardous items, it becomes more dangerous for human health.”

PMA demanded that the ban on import of all forms of Chalia should be imposed, which will definitely reduce the number of cases of oral cancer and Sub- mucous Fibrosis, cancer of oesophagus and stomach.