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Animal feeds blamed for transmitting cancer through milk

By Fred Kibor | August 14th 2015

Kenyan researchers warned that aflatoxin-laced animal feeds could be the major cause of cancer in North Rift.

This happens when dairy animals ingest poorly-stored feeds that have developed aflotoxin fungi.

The research findings conducted in 2013-14 by two university dons; Prof Erastus Kangethe (University of Nairobi) and Dr Kipkorir Kiptoo (University of Eldoret) revealed that aflatoxin ends up in animal and human breast milk after ingesting food containing the disease-causing organisms.

They claim aflatoxin has a known chemical that causes cancer (carcinogen), which when ingested gets into the liver and affects the cells, before spreading to the other tissues in the body.

Speaking yesterday in Eldoret at the Healthblos Cancer pre-event meeting in readiness for a regional cancer seminar, Dr Kiptoo, a radiologist and cancer researcher stated that there is an urgent need to regulate animal feed suppliers to mitigate cancer spread.

Cost implication

"The findings are shocking because this region and the country at large have a fondness for milk and its products, which now have been found to contain cancer causing organisms," said  Kiptoo.

Cancer is considered the number one killer and the most burdensome disease in Kenya.

While emphasising the need for cancer screening, he noted with concern how many people spend huge amounts of money travelling in search of doctors both locally and abroad to get treatment.

"The disease can be cured if diagnosed early. As a mitigation factor, we are proposing that storage standards for animal feeds and a regulatory framework for commercial animal feed handlers be put in place urgently," he said.

 Awareness campaign

Dr Jesse Opakas, a consultant oncologist at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH) said prevention and treatment of cancer is possible with education and awareness, noting that there is need for sustained campaigns on the disease across the country.

Uasin Gishu Deputy Governor Daniel Chemno called for awareness creation in the North Rift region, since locals spend a lot of their time either handling grains or livestock.

"We hope the recent agreement between the Ministry of Health and county governments on medical equipment procurement will help in the early diagnosis and treatment of cancer, including chemotherapy," he noted.

Mr Chemno lauded MTRH for setting up the largest cancer centre in the region, saying it will give hope to thousands of cancer patients.

The seminar themed; 'Saving a life through education and awareness' has attracted 700 people from the North Rift region. It is being held today at Sirikwa Hotel and will feature medical exhibitions.

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