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Cancer Causing Kenkey Sparks Debate

Claims by a Ghanaian medical doctor, Dr Hanson Asare, that eating too much kenkey could lead to cancer have sparked a debate, with other medical professionals and the meal’s lovers challenging his assertion.

Claims by a Ghanaian medical doctor, Dr Hanson Asare, that eating too much kenkey could lead to cancer have sparked a debate, with other medical professionals and the meal’s lovers challenging his assertion.

While addressing a gathering at an event, he stated that the popular Ghanaian delicacy has high levels of aflatoxins, which are carcinogenic.

“Kenkey is one of the best meals in Accra, but I tell you, most of the kenkey in Accra has high levels of aflatoxins that are carcinogenic. So if you’re a kenkey lover and eat it every day, you can get cancer from excess intake,” Dr. Hanson Asare said in a video circulating on social media.

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The medical doctor’s claims have upset some kenkey lovers, with many vowing to continue consuming their favourite meal regardless of the alleged health risk.

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Meanwhile, another medical practitioner, Dr Kofi Adum-Attah, disagreed with his colleague, stating that while it is true that the preparation stage of Kenkey, if not managed hygienically, could pose health risks to consumers, it is not entirely true that eating Kenkey could lead to cancer.

“This matter was extensively dealt with some years ago, even by NMIMR. If the fermentation process is contaminated, fungus contamination can produce aflatoxins that may have carcinogenic effects. Our mothers usually are careful and properly discard the supernatant with the chaff as a matter of tradition and practice. Also, epidemiologically speaking, if that assertion were true, there would be hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people with cancer in the country attributable to kenkey consumption, but that is not the case, right?” Dr Adum-Attah wrote on X (formerly Twitter) in reaction to Dr Hanson Asare’s assertion.

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Kenkey is a traditional Ghanaian food made from fermented maize dough. It’s typically served as a staple food and is enjoyed with various accompaniments such as fish, soup, stew, or sauce. The fermentation process gives kenkey a slightly sour taste, and it’s often wrapped in banana leaves or corn husks before being cooked. It can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and is a significant part of the culinary culture in Ghana.

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