Recommendation 10 Background


Mycotoxins, the byproducts of the metabolism of molds, are a health problem in countries with hot damp climates and inadequate storage facilities. When foods are stored at ambient temperatures and for prolonged periods, the probability of the development of mycotoxins increases. According to the AICR/WCRF panel, current evidence indicates that aflatoxin probably increases the risk of primary liver cancer (cancers that start at an organ and spread to the liver are not considered primary liver cancers)

Over 300 mycotoxins in food and animal feed have been identified worldwide. The Food and Agriculture Organization has estimated that approximately 25% of the world crops are contaminated every year with mycotoxins. Synthetic and natural fungicides and insecticides can reduce the level of organisms that produce mycotoxins. Insects play a role as vectors for microbial contamination.

Some mycotoxins are carcinogenic in laboratory animals and long-term, low-level consumption of contaminated foods could pose a serious health problem. Areas most notably affected are Africa, southeast Asia and Latin America.

Laboratory evidence along with the geographical distribution of liver cancer support the probable evidence of increased risk. Hepatitis B may increase the population's sensitivity to micotoxins.

See Recommendation 10 "How to"


EXTOXNET FAQS Diet and Cancer Homepage

Prepared 1998 by Bernadene Magnuson, Ph.D.
University of Idaho, Dept. of Food Science and Toxicology - EXTOXNET FAQ Team.