Researchers warned that cats may be spreading brain cancer to their owners. A parasite that breeds in the stomach of cat is associated with brain tumours in people. Brain cancer and its range of guise claim thousands of lives each year globally.
The parasite Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) is carried by about third of the global population deep inside their brains and has been associated with personality changes, in people and in animals. The parasite has an intricate lifestyle but can only breed inside cats, which then pass their minuscule eggs, spreading the infection.
Experts have already advised pregnant women not to empty cat litter trays, because the parasite can be lethal to unborn babies and now it appears that the health risks may extend to other people. French researchers collected international statistics on brain tumours in men and women and compared it with statistics on T. gondii infection rate.
The finding showed that rates of cancer are highest in nations where parasite was most widespread, even though other aspects like income were also considered. According lead research Frederic Thomas, from the CNRS research institute in Montpellier, they think their results are amply strong to suggest that T. gondii potentially raises the risk of brain cancer in humans.
The parasite has already blamed for brain tumours in animals and there is also substantiation that T. gondii has effects on the brain that escort to changes in behavior. The rats infected with parasite lose their fear of cats, making it more likely they will be killed and eaten.
In the same manner the parasite may also influence human behavior, with the study suggests that it turns males into aggressive and jealous. Other study has pointed out a strong connection between T. gondii and schizophrenia. The major causes of infection in human are eating undercooked meat, particularly lamb, pork and ingesting water, soil contaminated by cat faeces.
They had not proved that cats are spreading brain cancer, acknowledged the researchers behind the latest study. Further study is required to resolve the proximate relations between T. gondii and diverse types of brain tumours and to examine a mechanism of action. Establishing a connection between T. gondii and brain cancers could open the door to potential means to diminish cancer risk.