Investigating Links Between Aflatoxin Legislation, Climate, and Liver Cancer Rates Worldwide

Authors: Grace Tueller*, Brigham Young University, Ruth Kerry, Brigham Young University
Topics: Health and Medical
Keywords: aflatoxin, liver cancer, food safety, health geography
Session Type: Virtual Poster
Day: 4/7/2021
Start / End Time: 11:10 AM / 12:25 PM
Room: Virtual 52
Presentation File: Download



Aflatoxins are toxic substances produced by Aspergillus fungi in food crops in the field and in storage settings. Aflatoxins are particularly prevalent in grain and nut crops, and they are known to cause liver cancer in humans and animals. Consequently, many countries regulate the amount of aflatoxin allowed in various commodities used as food for humans and animals, but
several countries, usually developing countries, do not have legislation relating to permissible levels of aflatoxins. The problem of aflatoxin consumption in developing countries is further exacerbated by their often hot and drought-prone climates as aflatoxins have also been shown to be particularly prevalent in locations with high temperatures and drought conditions. Researchers found that liver cancer is 16-32 times more prevalent in developing countries at least in part due to aflatoxin contamination of food1. This paper seeks to investigate whether there are links between liver cancer, aflatoxin legislation, and climate. Comparison tests will be used to determine whether liver cancer rates are significantly different in countries with and without aflatoxin legislation and with stricter or more lenient legislative thresholds. Liver cancer rates will also be compared between hot, drought prone countries and others. Cluster analysis will be used to identify spatial clusters of high liver cancer rates, and multiple linear regression analysis will be used to establish the most important factors linked to these clusters. The covariates investigated in regression analysis include aflatoxin legislation, hepatitis incidence, alcohol consumption, temperature, drought, and GDP.

1 Liu, Y., & Wu, F. (2010). https://doi.org/10.1289/ehp.0901388

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