Risk assessment for aflatoxin: II. Implications of human epidemiology data

Risk Anal. 1990 Dec;10(4):561-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1539-6924.1990.tb00539.x.


A review of epidemiology literature revealed that only studies conducted in Africa and Asia included data adequate to permit quantitative assessment of the dose-response relationship between aflatoxin exposure levels and liver cancer rates. Although these studies were judged adequate, their direct use to predict risks in U.S. populations may be questioned since hepatitis B virus (HBV) infections are far more common in the studied areas than in the U.S. Recent research indicates that, if aflatoxin contributes to the development of liver cancer, it almost always does so in the presence of HBV infection. The African/Asian data do not permit us to estimate the potency of aflatoxin in the absence of HBV. Recognizing this, these data can only be used to establish upper limits for the predicted excess lifetime risk for liver cancer in the U.S. When used in conjunction with aflatoxin exposure estimates for the Southeast U.S., these data predict a liver cancer rate, due to aflatoxin alone, far above that actually observed due to all causes; this provides an indication of the conservatism of this approach. Data from the Southeast U.S. may be used to estimate an excess lifetime risk for liver cancer of 2.17 x 10(-6) x (aflatoxin intake, ng/kg/day).

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aflatoxins / poisoning*
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Global Health
  • Hepatitis B / chemically induced
  • Hepatitis B / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / chemically induced*
  • Liver Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Maximum Allowable Concentration
  • Risk
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Aflatoxins