Let me start this by absolutely, utterly stressing that i see actininogens or whatever it was as a concern. Any neurotoxin gives me pause, one that MAY have been involved in related cases in the tropics even moreso.
All that said, there appears to be evidence these compounds are toxic. But the (huge) disconnects are in “human dosage” and acute vs chronic…there is almost no info on what a person would actually ingest and would get by first-pass effect and enter the blood vs the handful of cell-culture studies folks are freaking out about.
Again i really want to stress i believe in caution, but there is a sh!t-ton of variables at play here and we are sorely lacking in info…given whole-fruit puree studies on cell culture for example, cherries and spinach would both go from superfood to death-bomb (cyanides and nitrates, respectively) but the really, REALLY important things are dose, clearance, etc. etc., etc…
Are pawpaws worse than a nice not-actually-deadly spinach salad? Maybe. Maybe not. But so far we knoe if you give a boatload of pawpaw extract to cultured neurons its a problem. And we know if you eat a pawpaw relative borderline obsessively, you can get neurological issues.
We dont know
How plasma or csf levels of these compounds correlate to those used in culture experiments
Long-term, chronic effects vs acute toxicity, which seems to be what keeps getting published
Clearance rates, dosage rates, relative abundance of these compounds by cultivar, etc…,
Like i said i intend to be cautious…but for folks claiming proof it is safe OR dangerous, no such thing…we just dont have enough info, and if you werent sure google tomatidine, cyanide, atropine, , etc ad nauseum for possible toxins in “healthy” foods. Sometimes there are toxins present you simply dont absorb, or that you do but metabolize, or they are at insignificant levels…but the point is we just dont know.
Is it a good time to exercise caution? Probably.
Is it a good time to pretend we know…anything? Not if your own narrative means anything to you, i dont think, there Is just too much we don’t know. But as a guy who got his phD degree from the department of pharm and tox, There is way too much stuff up in the air right now with Pawpaws to say anything conclusive on either side. Eat them; dont, use moderation…I intend to be cautious But I don’t think there’s anywhere near enough information to draw a conclusion in either direction and pretending otherwise probably doesn’t help anything.