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Cat parasite boosts your suicide risk - new study

By David Liu PHD

July 7, 2012 (foodconsumer.org) -- It has been known that people infected with a cat parasite known as Toxoplasma gondii are at increased risk for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.  A new study has now found people with this parasite are at higher risk for committing suicide.

The parasite is known to have a strange effect on the brains of rats and mice. According to Los Angeles Times, the parasite is fairly smart.  It affects rodent brains in a way that rodents will sexually arouse and start having sex at the time of their smelling the odor of cats' urine when they become easy foods for cats, and as a result, the parasite find its way to cats - who are a better host for this parasite.

The study of 45,000 women in Denmark published this week in the Archives of General Psychiatry showed women carrying the highest levels of t. gondii in their blood were 90 percent more likely to attempt suicides than those who were not infected while women with this parasite were on average 53 percent more likely to make such an attempt during a more-than-10-years- follow-up.

Compared to the effect from this parasite, the history of mental illness does not seem to play a major role, Dr. Teodor Postolache of the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, senior author of the study was cited as saying.

He also said that although the study was carried out in women, smaller studies have suggested that men can also be affected by this parasite.

Unfortunately, an estimated 10 to 20 percent of Americans have been infected with this parasite, according to Los Angles Times.