Peanuts and Aflatoxins - Poisonous Protein-Packed Pellets of Doom
Peanuts and Aflatoxins - Poisonous Protein-Packed Pellets of Doom

If there isn't anyone reading who has at some point been strapped for cash and has thus resorted to living on peanut butter sandwiches, I'm a Chinese jet pilot - we've all done it. And having done so, I have bad news for the lot of us.

Peanuts are - in fact - poisonous, protein-packed pellets of doom. They will give you cancer if you eat them frequently enough.

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Seriously, peanuts appear to be only slightly less carcinogenic than radium and although they are tasty, you should think strongly about never eating them again. Ever.

Scoff all you want, but they're poisonous because they're packed clown-car style with aflatoxins. Aflatoxins are hyper-poisonous carcinogens that come from fungi that grows on a variety of different foods ranging from corn to peanuts, and the stuff is serious.

Though acute aflatoxin poisoning occurs about as often as Amy Shumer skips a meal, chronic, lower-level exposure is both difficult to identify and more insidious than body-snatching ghosts in crappy Canadian "horror" films. No one's eating a pickup truck bed's worth of peanuts in a sitting, but you a pretty damn likely to do so over the course of a lifetime, and that's where the problems arise.

Chronic exposure to aflatoxins is a problem you don't want to have. It leads to immunosuppression, cirrhosis, and liver cancer (Hardick).

 

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Aflotoxin B1 - Worst of the Worst

Wait, it gets even better! Of the 20 different aflatoxins, aflatoxin B1 is considered to be by far the worst, and guess where it's most prevalent? You guessed it...

Peanuts.

According to the ever-helpful Wikipedia, aflatoxin B1 "is highly implicated in hepatocellular carcinoma [a type of liver cancer that usually only occurs in people with chronic liver disease or cirrosis] in humans" and it "also been shown to be mutagenic [it alters your freaking DNA], teratogenic [turns fetuses into unspeakable horrors or miscarriages], and to cause immunosuppression" in animals (Wikipedia). Oh yeah, aflatoxins can do more damage than Michael Meyers on bath salts, viagra and cheque drops in a sorority house.

Check out this list of bodily functions aflatoxins [read: peanuts] can mangle (Lee):

  • Respiratory: Pulmonary edema, cancer
  • Cardiovascular: Heart inflammation
  • Neurological: Reduced oxygen flow, headache, neuron death, encephalopathy, impaired memory, insomnia, disorientation, loss of coordination; tumors in both central and peripheral nervous system
  • Gastrointestinal: Liver damage, liver cancer, vital hepatitis, parasite infestation
  • Urinary: Kidney damage and tumors
  • Reproductive and Developmental: infertility, teratogenic, abnormal growth and development in children
  • Endocrine: Tumors and cancer
  • Blood: Blood and bone cancers
  • Immune: Immunosuppression, autoimmune reactions and allergies
  • Other: Mitochondrial malfunction, interference with protein and RNA synthesis, apoptosis (cell death)

If you think I'm just listing a series of unlikely hypotheticals, don't. Saddam Hussein admitted to UN weapons inspectors that his scientists had weaponized aflatoxins for delivery by Scud missiles against civilians. The weapons would have no battlefield use - they were just to cause cancer in anyone in the dispersion radius, and children are especially susceptible...

Makes you wonder how many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches you ate as a kid. One things to bear in mind with this Dr. Evil-esque plot was that UN inspectors joked at the time of Saddam's admission that "aflatoxin would stop a lieutenant from making colonel, but it would not stop soldiers from advancing across a battlefield" (Lee).

Think roasting the peanuts will save you from the predations of a legume that makes Carl Panzram seem like lazy serial rapist and murderer? Think again. Oil roasting only reduces the aflatoxin content by 65% and 69% for dry roasting... So you're still getting 30-35% of those awesome aflatoxins that are gonna build up in your body over the course of your life (Lee).

It's even worse in pork. Pigs are fed peanuts to fatten them up, and no matter what the cooking or processing method, the pork they provide still generally contains 70%-85% of the aflatoxins it had contained before cooking (Furtado).

 

Peanut Butter Cups
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So, there you have it. Don't eat peanuts or peanut butter, and you might want to think about cutting back on your pork as well (they're fed aflatoxin-rich crap like corn, peanuts, and soybeans) if you want to avoid the laundry list of health problems that will eventually come with chronic consumption of that nonsense.

Peanuts are a poor protein source anyway. They're filled with inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids, and almonds taste far better. That is, of course, unless you're having suicidal ideations and really want to drag out your death.

Now go eat a steak and smash some weights and try not to think about the fact that your peanut butter cups are poison.

References

1) Furtado RM, Pearson AM, Gray JI, Hogberg MG and Miller ER. Effects of Cooking and/or Processing Upon Levels of Aflatoxins in Meat from Pigs Fed A Contaminated Diet. J Food Sci. 1981, 46: 1306–1308.

2) Goldberg, Jeffrey. Should the U.S. Invade Iraq? Week 2. Slate. 3 Oct 2002. Web. 23 May 2017.

3) Hardick, BJ. Aflatoxins: Poisons hiding in plain sight. Totalrehash. 10 Sep 2016. Web. 23 May 2017.

4) Lee LS, Cucullu AF, Franz AO, Pons WA. Destruction of aflatoxins in peanuts during dry and oil roasting. J Agric Food Chem. 1969, 17 (3) 451–453.