Aflatoxins are a Major Cause of Liver Cancer

Aflatoxins are toxins produced by various Aspergillus molds (fungi).  Aflatoxins are very toxic chemicals which increase risk of liver and lung cancer.   Aspergillus can produce significant quantities of aflatoxins on many crops such as corn (maize) and peanuts (groundnuts).  Aflatoxin production can be particularly significant if corn or peanuts are improperly stored and become wet and moldy.

Aflatoxin production is particularly a problem in corn and peanuts produced in Africa and China.  Proper storage can do much to prevent mycotoxin production on corn and peanuts.

It is estimated that between 25,000 and 155,000 cases of liver cancer each year are due to aflatoxins in crops- particularly corn and peanuts.  The cancer causing effects of aflatoxins are particularly bad in people who are suffering from chronic infection to hepatitis B.  Hepatitis B affects about 1% of the population in US and Europe but affects from 5 to 26% of the population in African nations.

A good review of the cancer causing effects of aflatoxins written by Liu  and Wu is found the June 2010 Environmental Health Perspectives.

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