Islamabad - Youngsters get addicted to ‘Gutka’ in many parts of the country as it is causing cancer and other stomach diseases, health experts said.

Chancellor Pakistan Institute of Medical Science (PIMS) Dr Javed Ikram disclosed that Gutka consumption can causes dangerous diseases including mouth cancer and hypertension.

“These diseases are mainly common in the poor localities of urban and rural areas, where people consuming Gutka who were unaware of its consequences”, he informed. Dr Ikram said there is an urgent need for public awareness, effective legislation and implementation against the sale and use of Gutka, which is not only causing public nuisance, but also posing danger to human health with each passing day.

Besides the physical damages to the body, Gutka can also cause many psychological problems including confusion, impaired judgement, euphoria, altered brain chemistry, intoxication, dilated pupils, amnesia and psychosis, he said.

Dr Sajjad Ali was of the view that betel nuts, Gutka and Mainpuri caused cancer and the worst victims of such diseases were men and youngsters.

He said that betel nuts mostly used for preparation of these items were not of good quality and often found with fungal infections.

The most serious side effect associated with prolonged use of Gutka was the risk of cancer of gums, mouth, throat, lungs, liver, stomach, prostate and oesophagus, Dr Sajjad said and urged the government to ensure an effective implementation of the ban.

Gutka, a bizarre mixture, has become a favourite pastime in underprivileged and middle class localities, mostly in Karachi and Islamabad.

According to Gutka selling shopkeepers, there are many brands of Gutka available in different flavours in the market, including chocolate.

From a societal perspective, Gutka causes public nuisance and pollution. It has been observed that Gutka users always spit over the roads and buildings.

Dr Shazia Basit, a Dental Surgeon, said that there is a law but is not implemented. She stressed the need for punishing a person involved in such things.

She said that three most vital issues related to dental health in Pakistan include caries, gum diseases, and cancer. Most consumers believe that the blend is not harmful, doctors, especially oncologists, say consumption of Gutka is more harmful than any other form of tobacco, she concluded.