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Seminar on shielding environment

Ranchi, May 22: Betel nuts can stimulate your appetite, help control your blood pressure and also fight obesity. But its composition is being affected.

Over 600 million people, around 10 per cent of the world’s population, use betel nuts in some form or the other. “If used in lesser quantity with more attention to its quality, betel nuts can serve man as a medicine, but additives used by man change its nature,” said R.N. Sharan, professor of Radiation and Molecular Biology at North East Hill University, Shillong, at the seminar on the International Day for Biological Diversity.

Sharan has spent three decades studying betel nuts, which is very popular not only in north eastern states, but in many other countries. “Everywhere man has been adding many things like lime which changes its properties,” Sharan said. The seminar was organised by Yugantar Bharti and School for Ecology and Environmental Management.

Sharan said over 51 per cent cancer patients are linked with the use of betel nuts and oral cancer is the sixth most common form of cancer in India. But there exist only 25 regional cancer centres, whereas 2.5 million cancer cases are reported a year.

While citing an example of sacred forests in Meghalaya, Sharan said people have destroyed one such forest for agriculture and housing purposes. He felt that Cherapunjee and its adjoining areas, known to receive the heaviest rainfall in the world, may have to buy drinking water soon.

In its bid to spread environmental awareness, Yugantar Bharati will resume its Jal Jagrukta Abhiyan 2008 on June 5, the World Environment Day, by a dharna at Bharat Coking Coal Limited headquarters to protest against pollution of the Damodar river.

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