Access Asia

Taiwan tackles dangerous betel nut addiction

Around one-tenth of the world's population chews betel nuts. The stimulant is hugely popular in Asia: it is used as a pick-me-up like coffee, but is also a symbol of love and a cure for indigestion or impotence. But these perceived benefits may be outweighed by the costs. Betel nuts are carcinogenic: in fact, around nine out of 10 oral cancer patients in Taiwan have a habit of chewing them.


Also, be it a nuclear threat from North Korea, or a natural disaster like an earthquake or tsunami, some people in Japan are preparing for the worst. Sales of nuclear shelters, air purifiers and gas masks are soaring in the country.

Meanwhile, in Thailand, the price of rubber continues to soar due to a shortage in supply. While that's bad news for motorists, Thailand's rubber farmers are raking in the profits.

Finally, we head to Indonesia, where the province of Papua has shown an uncanny ability to produce great football players. Is it cultural, the high altitude, or something in the water? Either way, its people have earned a reputation they are proud of.

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