Novel methods for mitigation of dietary risk factors for disease Grant uri icon


  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) are unavoidable environmental pollutants produced from the incomplete combustion of organic materials. People are frequently exposed to PAHs through the food they eat, especially foods that have been grilled, barbecued or smoked. A variety of PAHs, which normally exist in complex mixtures, have been recognized as carcinogenic and capable of eliciting negative health effects in humans. The association between high PAH exposure and the risk of cancer has been established in various epidemiological studies. PAHs are also harmful to the human immune system and can significantly interfere with development of a fetus and/or child resulting in brain defects. Furthermore, early life exposures to PAHs are thought to increase incidence of liver cancer later in life. While a portion of PAH exposures result from inhalation of airborne contaminants, dietary exposure has also been shown to play a significant role in the formation of DNA damage, which could lead to cancer. Our recent survey in a US city with high incidence of liver cancer in San Antonio, TX indicated that approximately half of study participants had detectable levels of a PAH biomarker in their urine, suggesting considerable exposure to one or more PAHs. In addition, our laboratory reported increased levels of a urinary aflatoxin (AF) biomarker in the same community, which correlated with consumption of corn tortillas, rice, and nuts. AFs are naturally occurring toxins produced by Aspergillus fungi that frequently contaminate commodities such as maize, peanuts and tree nuts and exposure to the most prevalent and potent type of aflatoxin, AFB1, can cause liver toxicity, suppression of the immune system, and decreased growth rate in animals and humans. Chronic exposure to AFs is a major risk factor for the development of liver cancer. The aflatoxin problem is especially pronounced in traditionally underserved communities and high risk areas due to the frequent consumption of moldy foods or disproportionate consumption of foods containing aflatoxin-contaminated ingredients. In fact, a study recently completed by our laboratory indicated that approximately 85% of the Texas study population exhibited detectable aflatoxin B1-albumin adducts, an exposure biomarker found in the blood.........

date/time interval

  • 2015 - 2020