Toxin Linked to Testicular Cancer

A toxin found in certain foods may be linked to the development of testicular cancer in young men.

Gary G. Schwartz, Ph.D., from Wake Forest University believes exposure to the toxin called ochratoxin A during childhood or even before birth may lead to testicular cancer in a man’s early adulthood. Ochratoxin A is a common carcinogen that results from molds that grows in grain and coffee beans. It is also found in animals like pigs that consume moldy grain. Schwartz says, “Little is known about the etiology of testicular cancer, which is the most common cancer among young men.” However, he points out the highest rate of testicular cancer is in Denmark and consumption of pork products in Denmark is among the highest in the world. He says People of Denmark also eat the most rye, which is the grain that is most often contaminated by the toxin.

Another point Schwarz makes is that testicular cancer is more common in men from higher socioeconomic levels, who are also the most likely to be breastfed as infants. He says, “We propose that exposure to ochratoxin A contaminated food provides a coherent explanation for much of the descriptive epidemiology of testicular cancer.” He adds future studies of the disease should be focused on breastfeeding practices and the consumption of foods containing the toxin.

Schwarz says if his theory proves accurate, using aspirin, or vitamins A, C and E, may reduce the toxicity of ochratoxin A. He says, “These agents, in animals at least, markedly reduce the DNA damage caused by ochratoxin A.”

SOURCE: Cancer Causes and Control, 2002;13:91-100

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