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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Aflatoxin Contaminated Food may cause Liver and Cervical Cancer

Posted by Dr Prahallad Panda on 2:55 PM Comments

Aflatoxins produced by fungus of Aspergillus family, are common and widespread in nature. They can colonize and contaminate grain before harvest or during storage.
Host of crops are particularly susceptible to infection by Aspergillus following prolonged exposure to a high-humid environment, or damage from stressful conditions such as drought, that lowers the barrier to entry. Insect or rodent infestations facilitate mold invasion of some stored commodities.

Aspergillus fumigatus as seen under the electr...
Aspergillus fumigatus as seen under the electron microscope (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The native habitat of Aspergillus is in soil, decaying vegetation, hay, and grains undergoing microbiological deterioration, and it invades all types of organic substrates whenever conditions are favorable for its growth. Favorable conditions include high moisture content (at least 7%) and high temperature.
International sources of commercial peanut butter, cooking oils (e.g. olive, peanut and sesame oil), and cosmetics have been identified contaminated with aflatoxin.
Aflatoxins are detected occasionally in milk, cheese, corn, peanuts, cottonseed, nuts, almonds, figs, spices, and a variety of other foods and feeds. Milk, eggs, and meat products are sometimes contaminated because of the animal consumption of aflatoxin-contaminated feed.
However, the commodities with the highest risk of aflatoxin contamination are corn, peanuts, and cottonseed. Refrigerators may also house the mold providing good environment.
In many of these contaminated food products, the aflatoxin exceeded U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), or other regulatory agency, safe limits.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has established action levels for aflatoxin present in food or feed to protect human and animal health which range between 20 and 300 ppb.

Above: Observe the comparison between the same ear of corn before and after removing the husk from it: No major signs of infestation shows before, yet it is extensively damaged from the inside.

Mexican scientists identified and quantified the amount of aflatoxins (carcinogenic) in food such as corn tortilla, rice, chili pepper, processed sauces, chicken breast and eggs, and revealed its relationship with cervical and liver cancer in humans.
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) (National Autonomous University of Mexico) researcher analyzed 800 kilos of tortilla in Mexico City, ten different kinds of chili pepper, rice and corn among others. They also studied how much of this substance stays in animal tissues after ingesting this kind of food, and found that aflatoxins are present in chicken breast, gizzard, liver and eggs –white and yolk.
Aflatoxin was recovered from tissue samples of liver and cervical cancer in humans, therefore aflatoxins are a very important factor in triggering this diseases.
This research is the first in the world to report that cervical cancer can also be caused by ingesting aflatoxin contaminated food. This carcinogenic has also been detected as a trigger of colorectal, pancreatic, breast and lung cancer. Human Papillomavirus is more carcinogenic and prone to trigger cervical cancer than aflatoxins.
Every day, it is likely that each person consumes traces of millionths or milligrams of aflatoxin that accumulate over the years in DNA and can cause damage.
To avoid these substance, researcher suggests properly storing food, which would control the production of the toxin. Also, vary the foods one ingests and preferably consume wheat tortilla and fish.
Peanuts and peanut butter are some of the most rigorously tested products by FDA because they frequently contain aflatoxins and are widely consumed.
One can reduce aflatoxin intake by:
  • Buying only major brands of nuts and nut butters
  • Discarding any nuts that look moldy, discolored or shriveled
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