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J Toxicol Clin Toxicol. 2004;42(2):217-34.

Health effects of mycotoxins: a toxicological overview.

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Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group, San Diego University of California, San Diego, California 92101, USA.


Diseases caused by fungi are spread by direct implantation or inhalation of spores. Fungi can cause adverse human health effects to many organ systems. In addition to infection and allergy, fungi can produce mycotoxins and organic chemicals that are responsible for various toxicologic effects. We reviewed the published literature on important mycotoxins and systemic effects of mycotoxins. Scientific literature revealed a linkage between ingesting mycotoxin contaminated food and illness, especially hepatic, gastrointestinal, and carcinogenic diseases. Issues related to mycotoxin exposure, specific diseases, and management are discussed. Although there is agreement that diet is the main source of mycotoxin exposure, specific health effects and risk assessment from indoor nonagricultural exposure are limited by the paucity of scientific evidence currently available. Further research on the health effects of inhaling mycotoxins in indoor settings is needed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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