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ByJuma Chai

Nov 9, 2019

what is Aflatoxins.

these  are poisonous carcinogens that are produced by certain molds (Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus) which grow in soil, decaying vegetation, hay, and grains. They are regularly found in improperly stored staple commodities such as cassava, chili peppers, maize, cottonseed, millet, peanuts, rice, sesame seeds, sorghum, sunflower seeds, tree nuts, wheat, and a variety of spices. When contaminated food is processed, aflatoxins enter the general food supply where they have been found in both pet and human foods, as well as in feedstocks for agricultural animals. Animals fed contaminated food can pass aflatoxin transformation products into eggs, milk products, and meat.


Children are particularly affected by aflatoxin exposure, which is associated with stunted growth,delayed development, liver damage, and liver cancer. An association between childhood stunting and aflatoxin but a causal relationship between childhood stunting and aflatoxin exposure has yet to be conclusively shown by epidemiological studies, though such investigations are under way. Adults have a higher tolerance to exposure, but are also at risk. No animal species is immune. Aflatoxins are among the most carcinogenic substances known. After entering the body, aflatoxins may be metabolized by the liver to a reactive epoxide intermediate or hydroxylated to become the less harmful aflatoxin M1.

Signs, Symptoms, and Effects

Unfortunately, unlike some of the temporary signs and symptoms of food poisoning that stem from a run-of-the-mill virus, aflatoxin is extremely poisonous in the short and long term, and the symptoms of aflatoxicosis can last. In fact, aflatoxins are so dangerous that the original version of the U.S. Patriot Act considers their handling a potential crime, depending on who you are. That’s because if some nefarious character were to get their hands on these toxins, they could use it for bioterrorism and the consequences of it could be severe.

Aflatoxins can cause:

  • Nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain
  • Convulsions
  • Pulmonary edema, which is fluid buildup (edema) in the lungs (‘pulmon-‘)
  • Cerebral edema, which is fluid buildup in the brain (‘cerebro-‘)
  • Blood abnormalities, such as an increased risk of bleeding out
  • Severe damage to the liver
  • Damage to the kidneys and heart
  • Death

Juma Chai

A writer dedicated to providing the world with the best insights into Africa.

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