Micronucleus in Buccal Cells among Betel Quid Chewers and Non-Betel Quid Chewers in Selected Barangays in Zamboanga City

Benkassar Abdurajak, Servando Halili Jr., Al-Zamzam Abubakar


Objective: A cross-sectional study was done to compare the presence of micronucleus in buccal epithelial cells between betel quid chewers and non-betel quid chewers in Zamboanga City.

Methodology: Purposive sampling was used to enroll the 104 participants (52 betel quid chewers and 52 non-betel quid chewers). The demographic profiles and betel quid chewing habits of the participants were obtained using a questionnaire. Buccal cells samples were collected using clean and dry tongue depressors and were smeared directly onto pre-cleaned glass slides which were processed for Papanicolaou staining by a medical technologist. For each slide, 1000 buccal cells were examined using a light microscope with an attached camera. Photomicrographs of buccal cells with micronuclei were taken. Two pathologists separately validated the results through the photomicrographs. Intraclass correlation coefficient for inter-rater reliability gave a value of 1 which indicates high reliability among observers.

Results: The results revealed that the median of the frequency of micronucleus among betel quid chewers and non-betel quid chewers were 56.5 and 36, respectively. Mann-Whitney U test revealed a significant difference (p=0.031) at α=0.05 in the frequency of micronucleus between the 2 groups. There were 36.5% of betel quid chewers who have frequency of micronucleus above the cut-off value and on the other hand, 15.4% among the non-betel quid chewers.  Pearson’s correlation coefficient revealed that there was a very weak negative relationship (r = -0.072) between total frequency of micronucleus and length of time of betel quid exposure among the exposed group.

Conclusion: It was concluded that betel-quid chewers have significantly higher number of frequency of micronucleus compared to non-betel quid chewers which puts them at higher risk for developing oral malignancies. The practice of betel quid chewing should be avoided due to its harmful effects.


micronucleus, betel, Areca, Papanicolaou

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