Lack of an Apparent Association between Mycotoxin Concentrations in Red Chili Peppers and Incidence of Gallbladder Cancer in India : an Ecological Study


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Our recent studies conducted in South America have shown that mycotoxin contamination of red chili peppers (RCPs) may be associated with an increased risk of gallbladder cancer (GBC). Whether this relationship exists in India, a country with a high incidence of GBC and high consumption of RCPs, is unclear. We therefore measured concentrations of aflatoxins (AFs) and ochratoxin A (OTA) in RCPs from areas of low, medium, and high incidence of GBC in India, and compared these concentrations with GBC incidence in each area. Twentyone RCP samples were collected from nine cities (eight from a lowincidence area, five from a mediumincidence area, and eight from a highincidence area). Concentrations of AFs and OTA were measured using highperformance liquid chromatography. No significant differences in mean concentrations of AFs and OTA were found in the three areas. AFB1 levels in the lowincidence area (10.81 ?g/kg) and highincidence area (12.00 ?g/kg) were more than 2.2 and 2.4 times higher compared with the maximum permitted level of AFB1 in spices (5.0 ?g/kg) set by the Commission of the European Communities, or that (4.4 ?g/kg) obtained in our previous study in Chile. Our results show that the mean concentrations of mycotoxins in RCPs are similar among the three areas in India with different incidences of GBC. Further studies with human subjects are needed to evaluate any association between AFB1 and GBC.