A parasite commonly found in cats faeces may cause Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and even cancer, new research suggests.
Toxoplasma gondii, which is carried by around 30 percent of cats at any one time and sheds in their stools, may alter more than 1,000 genes associated with cancer, a study found.
Once a human is infected, proteins from the parasite could also alter communication between brain cells, which may increase a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and epilepsy, the research adds.
Up until now, only pregnant women were advised to avoid cat faeces as the parasite is known to cause miscarriages, still births and damage to foetus’ development, particularly their brain and eyes.
Infections often seem harmless, with few people experiencing symptoms and just a few showing signs of mild flu.
Study author Dr Dennis Steindler from Tufts University in Massachusetts, said: ‘This study is a paradigm shifter.’