You might be asking, “Can mold cause cancer?”
Although one type of mold can be linked to or correlated to a higher incidence of liver cancer, exposure to black mold, or any other type of mold, has not been known to cause cancer. Mold, on the other hand, is linked to a variety of health problems. Mold can grow anywhere there’s moisture. Mold spores travel through the air, so they can enter homes and other buildings. Most of us can breathe some in every day without any problems.
When present in high concentrations or for lengthy periods, mold can worsen allergies and asthma, induce upper respiratory symptoms and cause mold poisoning. Mold sensitivity varies from person to person. Mold can cause significant complications for people who have certain pre-existing health conditions. This is why it is important to stop any signs of mold growth within your home.
Continue reading Immunity Therapy Center’s guide to learn more about black mold, different varieties of mold, and who is at risk.
What is Mold?
Molds are a form of fungus. They flourish in warm, moist, humid environments, indoors and out. They propagate by producing tiny spores, smaller than breadcrumbs, which float through the air in search of new homes.
Mold is everywhere, and you can’t see it most of the time. It can thrive in your bathroom, basement, and even your backyard leaf pile. If it’s moist enough, it can cause a severe mold problem and decrease indoor air quality. A moist area is the perfect spot for black, white, orange, green, brown, and even fuzzy mold.
What Are the Types of Molds?
Some toxic molds include:
Black mold has a reputation for being “toxic mold.” Satratoxin, produced by black mold, is a toxic chemical that can cause illness in some people.
This mold can produce aflatoxins which can make you sick and has been linked to a higher incidence of liver cancer. That usually comes from eating it rather than inhaling it.
It grows on corn, peanuts, and coffee beans, among other foods. In the United States, there has never been an outbreak of aflatoxins-related illness. This is because the United States and many other countries test their foods for it. Food manufacturers also treat their products for it. It is not a problem at low amounts.
Can Mold Make Me Sick?
Mold toxicity (also known as mold sickness or mold illness) refers to a variety of health problems and symptoms caused by toxic mold exposure and water damage. Mold in food can produce mycotoxin such as aflatoxin, which can be absorbed into the digestive tract when consumed.
Toxins produced by these molds are harmful, comparable to heavy metals, formaldehyde, pesticides, dioxins, and other environmental contaminants that harm our health. Mold toxicity symptoms can be both unexplained and persistent. It’s very uncommon for someone to visit several doctors and have numerous tests, all of which come back “normal,” or for mold toxicity to be misdiagnosed.
Mold toxicity can cause:
A rash triggered by black mold exposure looks similar to other allergic rashes. You or a doctor are unlikely to be able to diagnose a mold rash simply by looking at it.
Mold reproduces by releasing microscopic spores into the atmosphere. When you inhale these spores, your immune system can respond, resulting in an allergic reaction. Antibodies are produced, inflammation occurs, and a variety of nonspecific mold symptoms, including a rash, result from this response.
If your doctor suspects you have a mold allergy, they will likely do a series of tests, including a blood test and a skin prick test.
- Blood tests
A doctor can use an allergen-specific immunoglobin test to check if you’re allergic to mold or something else. When you have an allergy, your immune system produces immunoglobin E, a form of antibody. Each chemical you’re allergic to causes your body to produce a different sort of antibody. If you have a mold allergy, the test will reveal that you have a high amount of mold-specific antibodies.
- Skin-prick test
A skin prick test can detect up to 50 different allergic reactions at once. It’s widely used to determine whether or not someone has a mold or pollen allergy. It is commonly done on the forearm.
A physician will wipe your skin with an alcohol swab and use a lancet to apply a drop of each allergen to your arm.
Your skin will then be applied with histamine, glycerin, or saline. The nurse will examine your skin for symptoms of an allergic response after about 15 minutes.
People who are allergic to specific types of mold spores in the air may develop hypersensitivity pneumonitis (HP) with time. “Farmer’s lung” is one of the most common sorts of HP. Farmer’s lung is a life-threatening allergic reaction to mold occurring in hay and other types of crop material.
Because farmer’s lung is frequently undiagnosed, it can result in long-term damage to the lungs in the form of scar tissue. Fibrosis, or scar tissue, can worsen to the point where the person has problems breathing even when performing simple tasks.
Some other most common symptoms of mold exposure include:
- Impaired memory and cognitive decline
- Autoimmune disease
- Joint pain
- Weight change
- Muscle twitches (fasciculations)
- Fatigue and weakness
- Asthma and allergies
If you’re allergic to mold, your symptoms may be more pronounced, such as lung irritation.
The Institute of Medicine, according to the CDC, found sufficient evidence associating indoor mold and damp indoor conditions in general with:
- Upper respiratory tract symptoms in healthy people
- Asthma symptoms in patients with asthma hypersensitivity
- Pneumonitis in susceptible people
Limited evidence suggests a link between mold exposure and damp indoor conditions and:
- Respiratory sickness in otherwise healthy children
- Potential asthma in susceptible people
If you have emphysema, TB, or severe sarcoidosis, lung cavities can develop aspergillosis.
Aspergillosis is a much more severe reaction. Infection travels from the lungs to the brain, heart, kidneys, or skin. This is more likely to happen to persons with a compromised immune system and can be life-threatening.
How Quickly Can Mold Make You Sick?
The length of time mold affects your health is determined by several factors. Consider the following to obtain a better sense of timing:
Sensitivities and allergies
When you have a mold allergy, your immune system thinks that certain mold spores are intruders or allergens, resulting in sneezing and nasal congestion. A one-time exposure to mold may not create any symptoms if you don’t have a mold allergy. However, even if you aren’t allergic, it can induce symptoms.
Amount of Mold
Generally, the higher the amount of mold, the more likely you are to develop symptoms quickly.
Duration of Exposure
Similarly, the duration of the one-time black mold exposure is significant. After all, the more time you spend inhaling mold spores, the more spores you will inhale. If you are only exposed for a few seconds or minutes, you may not experience any symptoms. However, if you’ve been exposed to mold for a long time, your symptoms may appear quickly.
Proximity to Mold
It also depends on your proximity to the mold. That’s because proximity determines the amount of mold you’re exposed to.
If you handle mold directly, for instance, you’re more likely to develop symptoms soon. This can occur as a result of activities such as cleaning or handling moldy materials.
There are multiple treatment options for mold allergies. Some are available over the counter, while others require a doctor’s prescription.
Intranasal steroids can minimize allergic inflammation in the nose and sinuses. Antihistamines can be used to treat the histamine component of an allergic reaction. Another approach is to rinse the nostrils with a saline solution kit like Sinus Rinse or SinuCleanse.
In addition, depending on the type and severity of your mold allergy, your doctor may offer allergy shots to help your immune system deal with it more efficiently.
For patients with adverse conditions like ‘farmer’s lungs,’ doctors may advise removal from their current environment. Supportive care, such as vaccines, oxygen supplements, diuretics, and noninvasive breathing, may be required in these chronic cases. Lung transplantation is the final treatment option and can potentially extend life expectancy.
Keeping ahead of cancer risk factors for all cancers is essential to retaining optimal health. While mold exposure is rarely life-threatening and does not lead to cancer in almost all cases, increased exposure can exacerbate symptoms. Mold allergies can develop over time, and the attacks may get more severe over time. The key is to keep moisture from accumulating by addressing any leaks as soon as possible. Stop the leak immediately if you see a moisture buildup in any part of your home.
Cleaning the garbage cans in your kitchen regularly will help prevent mold growth. You can also use a dehumidifier throughout your home. Wearing a face mask when working in environments where outdoor mold is present can substantially limit your exposure to the allergen. There are masks available that specifically safeguard your respiratory system from mold exposure. Reach out to us today for more information concerning molds.
Written By: Dr. Pablo Orozco
Dr. Pablo Orozco is a Board Certified Medical Doctor from Universidad Autónoma de Baja California.
Dr. Orozco has been a treating physician at the Immunity Therapy Center for more than 3 years providing daily on site patient care. He works with patients on a daily basis and guides them through the treatment process. Dr. Orozco’s passion for Alternative Cancer Treatments along with his commitment to patient care is key to insure that our patients have the best experience and results possible.
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At Immunity Therapy Center, our goal is to provide objective, updated, and research-based information on all health-related topics. This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles. All information has been fact-checked and reviewed by Dr. Carlos Bautista, a Board Certified Medical Doctor at Immunity Therapy Center. All information published on the site must undergo an extensive review process to ensure accuracy. This article contains trusted sources with all references hyperlinked for the reader's visibility.