Indulgence in the favorite Bhutanese past time, doma chewing (a favorite serving of areca nut and betel leaf with a dash of lime) can make you more susceptible to diseases like HIV AIDS, dengue, and TB, a recent research conducted by the WHO and Loma Linda University in the US has revealed.
“Findings from this study raise the possibility that using betel nut quid increases the risk for transmission of infectious disease through various pathways, such as suppression of the immune system, or by providing an oral route of entry for disease pathogens,” Combodian newspaper, The Phnom Penh Post quoted a press release that accompanied the study.
“The results among betel nut users indicated that they were 2.6 times more likely to report a diagnosis ofHIV/AIDS compared to non-betel nut users, 2.4 times more likely to have had dengue fever, 1.5 times more likely to report a diagnosis of tuberculosis and 1.48 times more likely to have had typhoid,” the paper wrote.
The latest Gross National Happiness survey in Bhutan tells that 60% of the population chew doma. 72% respondents who participated in the survey had tried doma atleast once.
“About 82,257 Bhutanese chew it daily with each one using an average of about 13 khamtos (quids) a day though some take as much as 50 khamtos a day. At an average daily cost of Nu 30 for 13 khamtos, the habit costs each daily doma user an average of about Nu 10,950 a year, and together they spend more than Nu 900 million annually on doma — much more than what the 10th Five-Year Plan will spend on e-governance for developing government intranet and public service applications (Tenth Five Year Plan 2008),” Kuensel wrote quoting the survey.