A recently published study has linked aflatoxins found in maize to cancer.

The study published last Thursday in the Open Forum Infectious Diseases (OFID) journal revealed that  high aflatoxin concentrations in blood in women, increased the likelihood of cancer-causing  Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) strains.

Maize is one of the food items via which the aflatoxin is transmitted to people.

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86 women from 285 attending a cervical cancer screening programme at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in 2015 and 2016, were recruited as case studies. Out the 86, 49 or 57 per cent tested positive for aflatoxin. The prevalence of the HPV was found to be high among the women who also tested positive for the aflatoxin.

“AFB1-lys-positivity and higher plasma AFB1-lys concentrations were associated with higher risk of oncogenic HPV detection in cervical samples from Kenya women. Further studies are needed to determine if aflatoxin interacts with HPV in a synergistic manner to increase the risk of cervical cancer,” says part of the study.

See sections of the study here.

Bad storage

Aflatoxin in maize is often caused by bad storage and handling. Maize millers are now being called upon to practice better food handling practices. All cereal and foodstuff handlers have also been encourage to adopt zero aflatoxin levels. This comes after a study also revealed that milk sold in Nairobi and its environs also contained aflatoxins.

As the disease takes in toll on Kenyans, the government remains adamant in declaring it a national disaster.

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