The role of aflatoxins in hepatocellular carcinoma

Hepat Mon. 2012 Oct;12(10 HCC):e7238. doi: 10.5812/hepatmon.7238. Epub 2012 Oct 11.


Context: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most common cancers in the world but with a striking geographical variation in incidence; most of the burden is in developing countries. This geographic variation in HCC incidence might be due to geographic differences in the prevalence of various etiological factors.

Evidence acquisition: Here, we review the epidemiological evidence linking dietary exposure to aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) and risk of HCC, possible interactions between AFB1 and hepatitis B virus (HBV) or polymorphisms of genes involved in AFB1-related metabolism as well as DNA repair.

Results: Ecological, case-control and cohort studies that used various measures of aflatoxin exposure including dietary questionnaires, food surveys and biomarkers are summarized.

Conclusions: Taken together, the data suggest that dietary exposure to aflatoxins is an important contributor to the high incidence of HCC in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, where almost 82% of the cases occur.

Keywords: Aflatoxin-albumin Adducts; Aflatoxins; Hepatitis B Virus; Hepatocellular Carcinoma.