Mycotoxin-Linked Mutations and Cancer Risk: A Global Health Issue.

International journal of environmental research and public health. 2022;19(13)
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Mycotoxins are toxic substances produced by fungi, which can be found in common foods like maize, wheat, nuts, and foods containing them. Mycotoxins such as aflatoxins, ochratoxin, fumonisins, zearalenone, and some Penicillium toxins can alter genetic material. According to previous studies, they can damage genetic material and affect cell growth. Usage of chemicals such as fertilizers and fungicides is a common practice in the agricultural industry to protect plants from fungus and to feed them. However, fungicides can accelerate mycotoxin production. 16 studies were included in this Systematic Review and 11 in Meta-Analysis. This research looked at the harmful effects of mycotoxins such as aflatoxins, fumonisins, ochratoxin, T2, zearalenone, and some Penicillium toxins in causing cancers. The researchers evaluated the link between aflatoxin exposure and liver cancer, fumonisin B1 exposure and liver cancer, zearalenone exposure and breast cancer, zearalenone exposure and cervical cancer, citrinine and patulin exposure and colorectal cancer, and NEO, HT-2, and T-2 exposure and Oesophageal cancer. This research did not show significant associations between various mycotoxins and cancer risk. As currently, most studies are primarily focused on aflatoxin; more robust studies are needed to assess the cancer risk associated with different mycotoxin exposure. Using the results of this study, healthcare professionals can gain a better understanding of how mycotoxins affect our bodies.


Humans continue to be constantly exposed to mycotoxins, mainly through oral exposure (dietary), inhalation, or dermal contact. Recently, it has been of increasing interest to investigate mycotoxin-linked carcinogenicity. This systematic review was conducted to synthesize evidence of the association between mycotoxin-linked mutations and the risk of cancer, to provide an overview of the data linking exposure to different mycotoxins with human cancer risk, and to provide an update on current research on the risk of cancer associated with human exposure to mycotoxins. PRISMA guidelines were used when conducting the systematic review. PubMed, MEDLINE, and CINAHL electronic databases were comprehensively searched to extract the relevant studies published from inception to May 2022. A total of sixteen relevant studies (4907 participants) were identified and included in this review. Of these, twelve studies were from Asia, while four of the studies were conducted in Africa. The overall meta-analysis result found no significant association, although some of the studies confirmed an association between mycotoxin-linked mutations and primary liver cancer risk. Mainly, the experimental studies have shown associations between mycotoxin-linked mutations and cancer risk, and there is a need for researchers to confirm these links in epidemiological studies in order to guide public health policies and interventions.

Lifestyle medicine

Fundamental Clinical Imbalances : Neurological ; Structural
Environmental Inputs : Diet ; Air and water ; Xenobiotics
Personal Lifestyle Factors : Nutrition ; Environment
Functional Laboratory Testing : Not applicable

Methodological quality

Jadad score : Not applicable
Allocation concealment : Not applicable