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Taiwan's 'betel nut beauties' drum up business,
 
 
 
 
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The practice has been cheered on by male customers, condemned by feminist groups, decried by health professionals and pored over by sociologists keen to understand the island's "betel nut culture." But the aggressive sales tactics are credited with jump-starting a ho-hum industry: Betel nuts have supplanted sugar cane as Taiwan's second-largest crop, after rice.

Chewed widely in parts of Southeast Asia, India, Pakistan and the South Pacific, the betel nut is a stimulant popular as a hunger suppressant, breath freshener, tobacco substitute or simply for getting a mild buzz. Then there's the downside. Chewing betel nuts, which gives a kick akin to cigarettes, can lead to red-stained teeth, drooling, red-splotched sidewalks and oral cancer.
 
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