Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Mailman School of Public Health of Columbia University, New York, USA.
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.
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.
Ecological, case-control and cohort studies that used various measures of aflatoxin exposure including dietary questionnaires, food surveys and biomarkers are summarized.
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.