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A cross sectional study of hepatitis B, C, some trace elements, heavy metals, aflatoxin B1 and schistosomiasis in a rural population, Egypt. *

Chronic liver diseases are disastrous to health. Many factors are associated with their prevalence, hence endemicity. These are mainly infectious, parasitic and toxic. A survey was conducted in a village south to Cairo. Large industries concerned with iron and steel industry, metals smelting, cement manufacturing and electric station were located north to the village. A systematic random sample of houses was selected. All individuals inside the houses were invited to share in the study. Sample size was 84 individuals. Hepatitis markers were done (HBsAg and anti-HCV antibodies).

The levels of some heavy metals were assessed; which were lead, mercury, arsenic, aluminum, manganese, nickel, chromium and cadmium. Levels of some trace elements were assessed. These were copper, iron, selenium and zinc. Aflatoxin B1 was assessed in serum. Assessment of schistosomal circulating antigen and antibodies was carried out. Abdominal ultrasonograghy was done to assess liver condition. Univariate logistic regression analysis was done to assess the association between studied variables and HBsAg or anti-HCV sero-positive subjects. The association between studied variables and bilharzial or fatty liver, diagnosed by ultrasonography, were also assessed. The univariate logistic regression analysis revealed odds ratios at the following results. For HBsAg seropositive subjects, aflatoxin B1, lead, chromium and schistosomal antigen and antibodies were higher than negative ones where odds ratios were; 6.2, 1.6, 1.6, 1.6 and 1.7, respectively. None of the variables showed statistically significant difference. For anti-HCV antibodies sero-positive subjects, aflatoxin B1 and chromium had the highest odds ratios among the studied variables, (odds ratios were 2.5 and 2.4, respectively).

Bilharzial liver showed higher significant positivity of anti-HCV antibodies and insignificant decreased level of zinc than negative ones (odds ratios were 7.2 and 4.5, respectively). Fatty liver cases showed higher statistically significant positivity of anti-HCV antibodies and chromium than negative ones. Odds ratios were 8.0 and 7.1, respectively. Statistically significant lower level of aflatoxin B1 was shown in fatty liver than normal liver subjects. Multivariate logistic regression analysis for fatty liver showed that only anti-HCV antibodies sero-positivity had statistically significant odds ratio in comparison to chromium level and aflatoxin B1. It is concluded that some heavy metals, and Aflatoxin B1 had a definite association with liver diseases in the area under study. Having anti-HCV antibodies had a relation with fatty liver and with bilharzial liver more than having HBsAg. It is recommended that environmental management to factories nearby the village is urgently needed to decrease exposure to heavy metals. Prevention of hepatitis infection and aflatoxin exposure through different means is also recommended, other wise health care authorities would be confronted with unusual cases of HCC in the nearby future.

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Published on 09-22-2008
Authors: Sayed HA, El Ayyat A, El Dusoki H, Zoheiry M, Mohamed S, Hassan M, El Assaly N, Awad A, El Ansary M, Saad A, El Karim AA.
Source: Public Health Department, Theodor Bilharz Research Institute, Embaba.