Background: Over 4 billion people worldwide are exposed to dietary aflatoxins, which cause liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma, HCC) in humans. However, the population attributable risk (PAR) of aflatoxin-related HCC remains unclear.
Methods: In our systematic review and meta-analysis of epidemiological studies, summary odds ratios (ORs) of aflatoxin-related HCC with 95% confidence intervals were calculated in HBV+ and HBV- individuals, as well as the general population. We calculated the PAR of aflatoxin-related HCC for each study as well as the combined studies, accounting for HBV status.
Results: Seventeen studies with 1680 HCC cases and 3052 controls were identified from 479 articles. All eligible studies were conducted in China, Taiwan, or sub-Saharan Africa. The PAR of aflatoxin-related HCC was estimated at 17% (14-19%) overall, and higher in HBV+ (21%) than HBV- (8.8%) populations. If the one study that contributed most to heterogeneity in the analysis is excluded, the summarised OR of HCC with 95% CI is 73.0 (36.0-148.3) from the combined effects of aflatoxin and HBV, 11.3 (6.75-18.9) from HBV only and 6.37 (3.74-10.86) from aflatoxin only. The PAR of aflatoxin-related HCC increases to 23% (21-24%). The PAR has decreased over time in certain Taiwanese and Chinese populations.
Conclusions: In high exposure areas, aflatoxin multiplicatively interacts with HBV to induce HCC; reducing aflatoxin exposure to non-detectable levels could reduce HCC cases in high-risk areas by about 23%. The decreasing PAR of aflatoxin-related HCC reflects the benefits of public health interventions to reduce aflatoxin and HBV.
Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.