Health Insider Update


Man Catches Cancer From Tapeworm

Man Catches Cancer From Tapeworm
November 06
14:05 2015

A curious case from Columbia has created a great buzz within the medical community. While cancer is certainly not anything thought to be contagious, an immuno-deficient man has seemingly acquired malignant tumors from tapeworms living within his body.

While tapeworms are dreadful enough, causing grave symptoms and disgust, the understanding that they could also infect people with tumors has never before been suspected.

“We were amazed when we found this new type of disease — tapeworms growing inside a person essentially getting cancer that spreads to the person, causing tumors,” said Dr. Atis Muehlenbachs, a pathologist at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention who helped figure out what happened.

The parasites, which can grow up to an inch and a half long, don’t usually cause symptoms. But they can reproduce inside people for years. As many as 75 million people globally carry them.

“People get the tapeworm by eating food contaminated with mouse droppings or insects or by ingesting feces from someone else who is infected,” the CDC said.

While viruses and bacteria have been known to cause cancer, this is the first time a parasite has been found to cause such illness. The tumors, which looked similar to the type found in humans, were identified throughout the man’s body. Shockingly, when researchers took a sample from the tumors, they made the astounding discovery that the cells were not human.

“The host-parasite interaction that we report should stimulate deeper exploration of the relationships between infection and cancer,” CDC researchers concluded.

The discovery could have profound impact on how people view the epistemology of cancer


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Sean Gibbons

Sean Gibbons

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