Health A Parasite Carried By Cats Could Increase Human Suicide Risk

tom_mai78101

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There's fresh evidence that cats can be a threat to your mental health.

To be fair, it's not kitties themselves that are the problem, but a parasite they carry called Toxoplasma gondii.

A study of more than 45,000 Danish women found that those infected with this feline parasite were 1.5 times more likely to attempt suicide than women who weren't infected. That's not a huge increase, but it's probably too big to have been caused by chance, says Teodor Postolache, a University of Maryland psychiatrist and senior author of the paper, which was published in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Still, the absolute risk of suicide remains very small. Fewer than 1,000 of the women attempted any sort of self-directed violence during the 30-year study span. And just seven committed suicide.

But this isn't the first time T. gondii infection, or toxoplasmosis, has been associated with behavioral changes in people, Postolache says. Previous studies have shown links to schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and even the chance that a person will get in an automobile accident.

 
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Accname

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Wait.
They were doing a study to find out how likely people are to do suicide, they were observing them, probably on a regular basis, and yet they let 7 people kill themselfs?
If they already knew that those women were susceptible to suicide attempts why didnt they help them or stop them? For the sake of science or what?
 

FireCat

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If they already knew that those women were susceptible to suicide attempts why didnt they help them or stop them? For the sake of science or what?
In short, scientists do whatever it takes to collect data. Isn't that awful? Really they should get jail time. "For the sake of science!"
 

phyrex1an

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They were doing a study to find out how likely people are to do suicide, they were observing them, probably on a regular basis, and yet they let 7 people kill themselfs?
The common way to do studies like this is to take everyone in, perform some test (check for parasite) then wait X years and see what happened. It's entierly possible that the people involved in the study only meet with the researchers once 30 years ago and then only to take blood samples.

Edit: Indeed, reading the paper it says that the blood samples was taking in connection with child birth and after that they never meet with the women again. They checked medical records to see if someone had committed suicide or not.

Edit 2: Also, the blood samples was taken between 1992 and 1995. I don't know where the news article gets "30-year study span" from.
 

Accname

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So how could they know those people got the parasite if they only checked after their death?
 

FireCat

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But still "Why didn't they done something about it?"

The researchers then cross-examined data available from Danish health registries to find out how many women from this group had committed suicide. They also checked Danish Psychiatric Central Register to determine if the women had any previous records of mental illness.

Study results showed that women who were infected with the parasite had a one and a half times increased chances of attempting suicide than women who weren't infected.
Btw: Researchers didn't find a similar effect in men?
parasite can also infect humans who ate undercooked meat or unwashed vegetables.
 

Accname

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They took blood samples from women that where at a hospital to give birth.
So they took blood samples when the women were giving birth and through those blood samples they tested them for a parasite, they stored the data who had a parasite and who not and after they commited suicide, or not, at some later date they compared those to whether they had that parasite at some point or not?
First of all, they told the women they got a parasite when they found out, right? And removed it hopefully, or gave them medicine or something.
And second, that might have been ages ago. They could have, as well, asked them whether they like tomatoes or not and might have come up with the same results, stating, that if you like tomatoes you are more likely to commit suicide.
 

phyrex1an

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So they took blood samples when the women were giving birth and through those blood samples they tested them for a parasite, they stored the data who had a parasite and who not and after they commited suicide, or not, at some later date they compared those to whether they had that parasite at some point or not?
Something like that, yeah.

First of all, they told the women they got a parasite when they found out, right?
The paper doesn't tell.

And removed it hopefully, or gave them medicine or something.
This parasite is typically not treated, something like 30% of the US population (this study was in Denmark, I have no idea what the numbers are for them) has it without any obvious adverse effects. As with everything else, it's a trade off between the risk of treatment and the risk of the infection. It can be treated, but probably the treatment is more likely to kill you than the parasite _unless_ you are already showing symptoms.
 

KaerfNomekop

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From one-third to half of the world's human population is estimated to carry a Toxoplasma infection.
-Wikipedia.

According to the paper, they identified those who died of suicide through the Danish Cause of Death Register, which is where they record how everyone died. They also used the Danish National Hospital Register for information on people who went for psychiatric help during the study.
 

BANANAMAN

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Someone will make this into a weapon eventually. I mean why bother killing your enemies when you get them to kill themselves for you?
 

tom_mai78101

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Some people just want the world to burn...

...at a faster pace.
 
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