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Public health impact of Aflatoxin


Aflatoxin is a naturally occurring food contaminant. The aflatoxins produced by aflatoxic fungi include B1, B2, G1 and G2, as well as two extra metabolic products, M1 and M2, which are significant as food and feed contaminants. The presence of aflatoxins in foods is also affected by insect activity, poor timing of harvest, heavy rainfall at harvest and post-harvest and inadequate drying of the crop before storage, as well as humidity, temperature, and aeration in the drying and storage process. This study aims to review the potential effects of aflatoxin on public health. People can be exposed to aflatoxins directly through consumption of contaminated foods or indirectly through eating foods derived from animals previously exposed to aflatoxins in feed. A contaminated aerosol can be inhaled as another exposure route. It has been reported that aflatoxin affects multiple organs and systems in the body.For a compound to be toxic, it has to undergo bio activation, which is mainly performed in hepatocytes. Bio activation is required to be toxic and this processing predominantly occurs in hepatocytes. According to the type, period and amount of exposure, toxicological effects include immunosuppression, impaired growth, and various types of cancer. Symptoms and the history of the individual (eating contaminated foods) are the most reliable diagnostic aids for aflatoxicosis. There is no specific antidote for aflatoxins. In addition to pre- and postharvest contamination, aflatoxin control should extend to all stages of the value chain. Because of their high toxicity and carcinogenicity, aflatoxins are a significant problem and among all the mycotoxins that cause worldwide contamination of foods and feeds. It is crucial to create awareness about aflatoxin contamination, its effect and its management.


aflatoxin, cancer, public health