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Health & Pregnancy

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Food Toxin Linked to Testicular Cancer


First, a male fetus is exposed to ochratoxin A during pregnancy, which causes damage to DNA in the testicles. Plus, the toxin is present in breast milk, so infants could be exposed through breastfeeding. He suggests that the DNA changes remain dormant until testicular growth occurs at puberty. This, he says, spurs these changes in testicular DNA to become cancer.

There is a big if here though. Schwartz's theory has not been proven yet. But if it does turn out to be true -- with further research -- he does suggest several ways to combat this problem.

Public health efforts may be able to reduce exposure to ochratoxin A. And interestingly, he notes that levels of the toxin could be reduced by giving pregnant women anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin or indomethacin or vitamins A, C, and E.

"These agents, in animals at least, markedly reduce the DNA damage caused by ochratoxin A," Schwartz said in a news release.

He also points out that aspartame, the sweetener found in Nutrasweet, can actually fight the effects of ochratoxin A.

No one is suggesting at this point that pregnant women start taking anti-inflammatory drugs or massive doses of vitamins to prevent testicular cancer in boys and men. And likewise, you shouldn't load up on Nutrasweet based on these findings.

But Schwartz does suggest future research should try to prove or disprove the association between this common toxin and testicular cancer. Plus, studies are needed looking at exposure with breastfeeding and the association between suspected foods and testicular cancer, he says.

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