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ID 992

Causes, Mold: Incidence

Description:
Mold-contaminated crops can be a serious problem especially in countries where proper storage facilities are limited.
Transcript:
Liver cancer incidence Mold-contaminated crops can be a serious problem especially in countries where proper storage facilities are limited. In such agricultural communities, exposure to the mold byproduct – aflatoxin – can be long-term, and can happen through crop handling as well as diet. Long-term exposure to aflatoxin and infection with the hepatitis B virus are the leading causes of liver cancer. Click the forward arrow below to find out more about the world-wide incidence of liver cancer. John Groopman, Ph. D., Bloomberg School of Public Health: “Liver cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in the world, upwards of a million people die of liver cancer each year worldwide. Many of these cases of liver cancer are in eastern Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.” “Early epidemiological studies demonstrated that the food supply in areas of the world that had high levels of liver cancer were also areas of the world where staple foods were heavily contaminated with aflatoxin.” “We were able to do a large epidemiologic study involving many different collaborators, many different research investigators where we examined over 18,000 people in eastern China who were healthy at the beginning of the study, and as these people began to develop liver cancer we then began to ask questions about what were the factors in their diet or in their other exposure situations that contributed to disease.” “From this investigation we were able to find that both aflatoxin and the hepatitis B virus separately were major risk factors for the development of liver cancer, but in those individuals who were exposed to both factors together, there was a very powerful, multiple interaction leading to extremely high risk for the development of liver cancer.” John Groopman, Ph.D. is the Chair of the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. His research focuses on the molecular causes and effects of environmental factors that may lead to the development of cancers. This research has led to the development of biomarkers used in studies of high-risk aflatoxin-hepatitis B populations specifically in China. “We have a very effective vaccine against the hepatitis B virus, but because the transmission of this virus occurs very early in life, we need to have the resources and the ability to vaccinate the world for the rest of 21st century in order to eliminate this virus as a factor in liver cancer development. Our studies also showed that aflatoxin contributes to the development of liver cancer. And it contributes to the development of liver cancer as a consequence of children who once they are no longer being breastfed start to consume the normal everyday adult diet. And so, the studies that we did that showed that there was this very powerful multiplicative interaction between the virus and aflatoxin, indicated to us that if we could block aflatoxin as a major factor in the development of liver cancer, we would be able to lower risk of individuals. At the same time, there needs to be the public health wherewithal in order to vaccinate populations as the birth rate of a country moves forward. Simply put, there are almost three billion people in the world who are at risk for the development of hepatitis B virus infection. And the economic resources do not exist right now for doing the types of vaccinations that need to be done for all the children who are being born year in and year out. And so, this is one of the big public health challenges that even when we have an effective vaccine you still need the economic resources for vaccination and distribution.”
Keywords:
causes of liver cancer, hepatitis b virus, environmental health sciences, epidemiological studies, research investigators, cancer incidence, cancer death, cause of cancer, proper storage, aflatoxin, eastern asia, agricultural communities, eastern china, staple foods
Creative Commons License This work by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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