A new study now suggests that a parasite commonly found in cat faeces may cause Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and even cancer.
The parasite, toxoplasma gondii, which is carried by around 30 percent of cats at any one time and shed in their stools, may alter over 1,000 genes associated with cancer.
Once the human is infected, proteins from the parasite can alter communication between brain cells, which may increase a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and epilepsy.
Pregnant women have always been advised to avoid cat faeces as the parasite is known to cause miscarriages, still births and often damage the foetus’ development, but new research shows that its effects are more widespread.
Speaking about the discovery, study author Dr Dennis Steindler from Tufts University in Massachusetts said that the study is a paradigm shifter.
The study found that the parasite is also liked to increased risk of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and epilepsy.
The parasite is thought to increase the risk of these conditions by releasing proteins that alter communication between brain cells.
The findings were published in the journal Nature.