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Consumption of miraa affects the sexual capability of men and could lead to heart attack, a new study has revealed.

The study by lecturers from Moi University, which was commissioned by the Government last year, also revealed that the plant affects the mortality of sperm.

This emerged when scientists tasked to study the effects of the plant released the report in Great Rift Valley Lodge in Naivasha.

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The forum was organised by the Consortium for National Health Research and two reports on miraa and cancer cases in Marsabit were presented.

Lead scientist Ochiba Lukanda said that a similar study conducted in the Middle East had proven that men who stopped chewing the plant performed well in bed.

"The consumption of the drug also results in a rise in blood pressure but it does not cause cancer as has been reported in some quarters," Dr Lukanda said.

He noted that a study conducted in areas where miraa is grown had shown that a high number of boys were dropping out of school.

"The boys are working on miraa farms and in packaging, which is very lucrative, and this has adversely affected the quality of education in these areas," he said.

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Lukoye Atwoli said that the ingredients in the plant also affected the quality of sperm after long use.

Dr Atwoli noted that miraa also causes some mental disorders like mood swings and depression.

"Apart from affecting education, the plant has other health implications and there is need for more studies on the effects of miraa," he said.

The report has been handed to Parliament for action.

Consortium for National Health Research Director Matilu Mwau, said that there was need for researchers and scientists to share information on studies done and welcomed the move by the Government to set aside two per cent of GDP to research.

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Elkana Onguti, from the Ministry of Health, admitted that funding remained a challenge but was quick to note that this has been addressed.

"There is need for more research on miraa and cancer in Marsabit before we issue concrete reports to the public," he said.

Last year, a report by the universities of Nairobi, Konstanz of Germany and Minnesota, US, and the Africa Mental Health Foundation provided new evidence that miraa users suffer from various types of khat-induced psychological symptoms such as depression, delusions, confused and disturbed thoughts.

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