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Aflatoxin and liver cancer
Jackson PE, Groopman JD.
Johns Hopkins University, School of Hygiene and Public Health, Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.
This chapter reviews the data that have been accumulated implicating aflatoxin ingestion as an important risk factor in the aetiology of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Numerous epidemiological studies have observed a correlation between areas of high aflatoxin exposure and a high incidence of HCC. The use of experimental models and specific biomarkers for aflatoxin exposure, such as urinary metabolites or aflatoxin adducts, have validated these findings. Ongoing clinical trials in Qidong, China, have indicated that oltipraz, a chemopreventive agent, can lower the biologically effective dose of aflatoxins by decreasing the metabolism of aflatoxin to its carcinogenic form and increasing the detoxification pathways of these metabolites. Intervention with chemicals such as these, alongside hepatitis B virus immunization programmes and improved storage conditions of staple foods, are prevention measures that can be undertaken to reduce the incidence of HCC in high-risk regions.