Correlation Between Carcinogens Found in Local Foodstuff Cassava and the Development of Cancer in Eastern Nigeria: Afara Village Umuahia in Abia State as Case Study
Cassava is a root vegetable widely consumed in developing countries. It provides some important nutrients and resistant starch, which may have health benefits. Cassava can have dangerous effects too, especially if it is eaten raw and in large quantities. Of immense significance is the presence of cyanogenic glycosides linamarine and lotaustralin in cassava which may lead to cancer if consumed in large quantities over a long period. The effect of these cyanogenic compounds were examined within Afara community in Umuahia north local government area of Abia state where cassava is cultivated in large proportions and serves as the major staple food of the community. The study was done in order to determine if there was a correlation between consumption of cassava and the development of cancer within the community. A total of 836 members in 105 homes visited for the study were profiled. Of these, males were 311in number comprising 37.20% of the population while females were 525 or 62.79% of the population. A total number of 169 persons or 20.21% of the study population were children and infants between the ages of 0 to 10 years, 112 individuals or 13.39% were aged between 11 and 20 years, 108 or 12.91% were between 21 and 30 years old, 193 or 23.09% were aged from 31 to 40 years old, 137 persons or 16.39% were aged between 41 and 50 years while a total of 117 members of the study population or 14.00% were over 50 years of age. A total of 629 persons or about 75.24%of the study population currently resided within the community while 207 former residents or 24.76% were said to have migrated to places outside the community, but had resided for at least 10 years and above in the community before migration. 23 cases of cancer afflictions were recorded within the community giving a total percentage of 2.75% of afflicted community members. Mortalities recorded were 14 while cancer survivors in the community were 9 in number, thus giving a mortality: survival ratio of 1.6:1 for the community.
Key Words: Cassava, Cyanogenic glycosides, Linamarine, Lotaustralin