International journal of occupational and environmental health

Carcinogenic effects of aflatoxin B1 among wheat handlers.

PMID 25000109


Epidemiological studies have demonstrated that serum aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) is a hepatocarcinogenic mycotoxin and contributor to the high rate of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The prevalence of liver cancer in Egypt is particularly worrisome. In a registry-based analysis of occupational risk for HCC, significant excesses were observed especially for grain mill workers. The aim of this study was to assess the hepatic carcinogenicity of AFB1 in wheat handlers. Serum AFB1/albumin (AFB1/Alb), alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), alpha-l-fucosidase (AFU), and arginase were estimated in exposed wheat handlers including millers and bakers. The control group was composed of non-occupationally exposed workers. AFB1/Alb and AFU were significantly higher among workers employed as bakers compared to mill workers and controls. Mill workers had higher levels of AFB1/Alb than the controls. AFB1/Alb, AFP, and AFU were all significantly higher and arginase was significantly lower among HCC cases compared to the other groups. There was a significant correlation between AFU and AFB1/Alb in bakers and between AFP and AFB1/Alb in HCC cases. Arginase was inversely correlated with AFB1/Alb in HCC cases. AFB1/Alb was significantly correlated with the duration of exposure in bakers. Wheat handlers exposed to Aspergillus flavus have a high risk of elevated serum AFB1/Alb levels and AFU.