Most people may not realize this, but there is a parasite that is commonly found in cat feces that is thought to have the potential to cause Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and yes, even cancer. This is according to recent research and it’s now being talked about.
About 30% of cats carry a toxoplasma known as Gondii. At any one time, cats have the toxoplasma in their stools, which is where it is released to. According to recent studies, this toxoplasma may alter over 1,000 genes that are associated with cancer. According to this latest research, once a human has been infected with the toxoplasma, proteins from the parasite may also alter communication between brain cells, which in turn can increase the risk of epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s.
For years, it was known that pregnant women should not come in contact with cat feces due to the parasite, as it was known that the parasite could cause miscarriages, developmental damage to the fetus, especially the brain and eyes, and still births.
The infections most often appear harmless. Flu-like symptoms were the most common symptoms that most people would experience, which doesn’t seem too bad, however, according to study author, Dr. Dennis Steindler from Tufts University in Massachusetts, he has been quoted as saying, “This study is a paradigm shifter.”
Since 1981, 246 infants with the Gondii-related disease, were monitored and followed. The data from the study was analyzed by researchers from around the world and the results were that there is a link between 1,200 human genes that are known to be associated with cancer, and this toxoplasma parasite. Furthermore, protein fragments from children who had a severe form of the disease, have also been linked to the neurological conditions, epilepsy, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s Disease. The parasite releases proteins that change the communication between brain cells, and this increases the risk of these diseases.
Dr. Steindler went on to explain that there are also other factors that come into play that may influence someone’s risk of having these diseases develop, beyond the toxin. The researchers wrote this: ‘We hypothesize that disease occurs in the presence of the relevant susceptibility genes, parasite genotype and other innate and environmental factors such as other infections, the microbiome or stress that influence immune responses.’
Dr. Steindler added his findings and translation on the findings: ‘At the same time, we have to translate aspects of this study into preventive treatments that include everything from drugs to diet to lifestyle, in order to delay disease onset and progression.’
Basically, Dr. Steindler feels that there is a lot more people can do in preventative measures to help lower one’s risk for these diseases, above and beyond contact with a cat’s feces. Having zero contact with a cat’s feces is not the only way to help prevent the onset of any one of them.
The findings were published in the journal Nature.