24 Dec 2004

Fiji call to declare kava a heart disease risk factor

4:36 pm on 24 December 2004

There's been a call in Fiji for kava to be declared a major risk factor in heart disease and for it to be included in the list of substance abuse drinks just like alcohol.

The call has come from a prominent doctor, Ram Raju, who says kava consumption is on the increase and, combined with smoking, it is perhaps the most lethal recipe for a heart attack.

Dr Raju says the rise in non-communicable diseases in Fiji is alarming and people are getting them at a much younger age.

He says 55 percent of deaths from coronary artery disease is in the 40 to 59 year age group.

But the chairman of the Fiji Kava Council, Ratu Jo Nawalowalo, says doctors should not make such statements about kava because he claims there is no truth in it.

Ratu Jo says scientists and doctors at the recent Kava Conference agreed that kava is safe for consumption and for use as a herbal medicine.