Zearalenone is a mycotoxin produced by several different strains of the fungus Fusarium, including Fusarium graminearum. An estrogenic metabolite, it can cause hormone imbalances in a host’s body, and–in turn–lead to a variety of health issues.
The United States Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration monitors zearalenone levels in food designated for human consumption and in animal feed. However, because the risks of zearalenone exposure have recently begun to enter public consciousness, there’s been an increased demand for easy, accurate zearalenone testing. And that’s where RealTime Laboratories’ testing services come in!
Zearalenone Toxicity In Humans
It’s worth mentioning that, while zearalenone CAN permeate the skin if a person comes in physical contact with Fusarium graminearum spores (and therefore, having a colony of Fusarium graminearum mold growing inside your home can be dangerous), that’s generally NOT how humans become sick from zearalenone exposure. Instead, the real hazard lies with eating contaminated food.
When humans ingest corn, wheat, or another grain that is infested with zearalenone toxins, or they eat meat that came from a pig, cow, or chicken that consumed infested feed, the mycotoxins can enter our bodies. And when the toxins “set up shop” in our GI tracts or sinus cavities, the result can be chronic illness.
Zearalenone Health Effects
Zearalenone can cause illness in all different kinds of mammals, but it’s particularly devastating to swine. Pigs exposed to even small amounts of zearalenone can have their reproductive cycles altered, and in larger amounts, they might suffer from infertility, spontaneous abortions, atrophy of the sexual organs, and birth defects in their offspring. Poultry, cattle, and sheep can experience similar issues if they ingest large amounts of zearalenone.
Meanwhile, in humans, zearalenone contamination has been associated with precocious puberty in young girls. It may also increase an individual’s risk for developing ovarian, cervical, prostate, and/or breast cancer, as these diseases can all be linked to long-term hormonal imbalances in the body.
Treatments for Zearalenone
When it comes to mycotoxin infestations, it’s nearly always easier and safer to take precautions to avoid becoming sick in the first place than it is to treat an illness. Avoiding zearalenone can be tricky for the average person, as it typically enters the food supply long before consumers come in contact with it. Folks who work with “raw” grain–including farmers, millers, and handlers–should be vigilant in their efforts to avoid fusarium mold, as consuming or inhaling spores can lead to infections.
Unfortunately, there is currently NOT a standard, FDA-approved method for curing zearalenone-related sickness in humans. When an individual is diagnosed with this (or any other) mycotoxin related illness, their physician will come up with an individual treatment plan. Removing the source of the fusarium spores and/or avoiding future exposure is usually par the course, which is one of the reasons that early detection of zearalenone is so critical.
Testing for Zearalenone
A mycotoxin test is one of the most reliable methods for the detection of zearalenone in humans (or animals), and urine testing is one of the least invasive ways to go about this detection. Instead of relying on blood or nasal secretions, RealTime Labs’ ELISA lateral flow test only requires a small amount of urine.
And with that sample, the test can detect up to 16 different types of mycotoxins with greater accuracy than standard liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (or LC-MS) tests. In addition to discovering zearalenone, our mycotoxin test will also note the presence of other common pathogens, including Ochratoxin A (which has been linked to respiratory issues) and Aflatoxin B1 (a known carcinogen, according to the World Health Organization).
Our Mycotoxin urine tests can be completed at home (as opposed to in a doctor’s office) and have a turn-around time of approximately 10 business days. Because we value transparency and ease of access for our clients, all results are given in a simple numeric format that explains which mycotoxins were found in their sample and the concentration of each. And because we value our clients’ privacy, as well, we send out results in the form of an encrypted email.
For zearalenone testing solutions, look no further than RealTime Laboratories! Our test kits, including urine mycotoxin kits and environmental EMMA tests, are professional-grade and guarantee accurate results! Please visit our Learning Center for more information and resources online; we offer blog posts, webinar recordings, and helpful links. Medical practitioners looking to learn more about mycotoxin illness should consider signing up for our in-depth Health Workshops, as well.