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Mycotoxins as human carcinogens—the IARC Monographs classification

Abstract

Humans are constantly exposed to mycotoxins (e.g. aflatoxins, ochratoxins), mainly via food intake of plant and animal origin. The health risks stemming from mycotoxins may result from their toxicity, in particular their carcinogenicity. In order to prevent these risks, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in Lyon (France)—through its IARC Monographs programme—has performed the carcinogenic hazard assessment of some mycotoxins in humans, on the basis of epidemiological data, studies of cancer in experimental animals and mechanistic studies. The present article summarizes the carcinogenic hazard assessments of those mycotoxins, especially aflatoxins (aflatoxin B1, B2, G1, G2 and M1), fumonisins (fumonisin B1 and B2) and ochratoxin A (OTA). New information regarding the genotoxicity of OTA (formation of OTA-DNA adducts), the role of OTA in oxidative stress and the identification of epigenetic factors involved in OTA carcinogenesis–should they indeed provide strong evidence that OTA carcinogenicity is mediated by a mechanism that also operates in humans–could lead to the reclassification of OTA.

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Acknowledgments

This study is dedicated to the memory of Assoc. Prof., MD. Ivana Dvorackova, DSc. who substantially contributed to the research of aflatoxins and helped to build general knowledge on aflatoxins and human health.

The authors gratefully acknowledge financial support from the project of Ministry of Health, Czech Republic—conceptual development of research organization (“National Institute of Public Health—NIPH, IN 75010330”) and from the specific research project (No. 2113/2016) of the Faculty of Science, University Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic.

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Correspondence to Vladimir Ostry.

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Ostry, V., Malir, F., Toman, J. et al. Mycotoxins as human carcinogens—the IARC Monographs classification. Mycotoxin Res 33, 65–73 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12550-016-0265-7

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Keywords

  • Mycotoxins
  • Aflatoxins
  • Fumonisins
  • Ochratoxin A
  • IARC
  • Carcinogenicity