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Toxins (Basel). 2020 Feb 13;12(2). pii: E118. doi: 10.3390/toxins12020118.

Food Consumption Data as a Tool to Estimate Exposure to Mycoestrogens.

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Food and Nutrition Department, National Institute of Health Dr. Ricardo Jorge, Avenida Padre Cruz, 1649-016 Lisboa, Portugal.
CESAM, Centre for Environmental and Marine Studies, University of Aveiro, Campus Universitário de Santiago, 3810-193 Aveiro, Portugal.
NOVA National School of Public Health, Public Health Research Centre, Universidade NOVA de Lisboa, Avenida Padre Cruz, 1600-560 Lisboa, Portugal.
Comprehensive Health Research Center (CHRC), Universidade NOVA de Lisboa, Campo Mártires da Pátria, 1169-056 Lisboa, Portugal.
Faculty of Nutrition and Food Sciences, University of Porto, Rua Dr. Roberto Frias, 4200-465 Porto, Portugal.
Epidemiology Research Unit, Institute of Public Health, University of Porto, Rua das Taipas 135, 4050-091 Porto, Portugal.
Department of Public Health and Forensic Sciences, and Medical Education, Faculty of Medicine, University of Porto, Alameda Prof. Hernâni Monteiro, 4200-319 Porto, Portugal.
Centre of Excellence in Mycotoxicology and Public Health, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Ghent University, Ottergemsesteenweg 460, B-9000 Ghent, Belgium.


Zearalenone and alternariol are mycotoxins produced by Fusarium and Alternaria species, respectively, that present estrogenic activity and consequently are classified as endocrine disruptors. To estimate the exposure of the Portuguese population to these two mycotoxins at a national level, a modelling approach, based on data from 94 Portuguese volunteers, was developed considering as inputs: i) the food consumption data generated within the National Food and Physical Activity Survey; and ii) the human biomonitoring data used to assess the exposure to the referred mycotoxins. Six models of association between mycoestrogens urinary levels (zearalenone, total zearalenone and alternariol) and food items (meat, cheese, and fresh-cheese, breakfast cereals, sweets) were established. Applying the obtained models to the consumption data (n = 5811) of the general population, the median estimates of the probable daily intake revealed that a fraction of the Portuguese population might exceed the tolerable daily intake defined for zearalenone. A reference intake value for alternariol is still lacking, thus the characterization of risk due to the exposure to this mycotoxin was not possible to perform. Although the unavoidable uncertainties, these results are important contributions to understand the exposure to endocrine disruptors in Portugal and the potential Public Health consequences.


food consumption; modelling; mycotoxins; public health; urinary biomarkers

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