Liver Cancer on Rise, Aflatoxin Contributes

  • 13th May 2017
  • by secretary
May 5, 2017. US National Institutes of Health.There are few other chemical carcinogens as closely tied to causing cancer as aflatoxin, a product of mold, usually in corn, that is ubiquitous on planet Earth. First discovered in the United Kingdom in 1960, aflatoxin was soon thereafter linked to disease when it was implicated in the deaths of turkeys who had consumed moldy peanut meal. Identified as a cause of liver cancer from both experimental studies and epidemiology, aflatoxin remains a significant contributor to liver cancer in humans, which is now the second leading cause of global cancer deaths.

“Deng Xioping [who led the People’s Republic of China from 1978 to 1989] allowed farmers to make a profit, so the local agriculture switched from corn to rice as a staple commodity. The reduction in aflatoxin exposure has been about 4,000 percent. It’s like quitting smoking to reduce lung cancer. We should never forget that primary prevention can have profound benefits.” Dr. Croopman*

Besides China, aflatoxin exposure has been linked to acute toxicities in communities suffering from drought and poor crops, impairment of child growth and development and cancer in many countries across the globe.

* Dr. Groopman is the Anna M. Baetjer Professor of Environmental Health Sciences and Chair of the Department of Environmental Health Sciences in the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Professor of Oncology and Associate Director of the Cancer Center for Cancer Prevention and Control at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center.]

Video lecture from the US National Institutes of Health
Air date: Tuesday, March 21, 2017, 2:00:00 PM
Runtime: 00:55:16
Description: Stars in Nutrition and Cancer
The aim of the lecture was to learn about the historic role that the dietary carcinogen aflatoxin has played in human liver cancer, to outline how mechanistic studies of aflatoxin has helped establish a paradigm for chemoprevention in high risk populations, and to project the emerging role of this agent in fatty liver disease and emerging data on liver cancer in Central America.

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