I can now blame all my personality traits on toxo; but cats probably aren't causing Danish women to kill themselves
Posted: July 5th, 2012 - 1:10am by Doug Powell
I’ve got a thing for the Danes.
The kid is named Sorenne.
But a new study in the Archives of General Psychiatry concludes that Danish women infected with the toxoplasmosis parasite were 1.5 times more likely to attempt suicide than their toxo-free counterparts.
Slate reports that when humans get infected—more often from rare meat and unwashed veggies than from cat boxes—the parasite settles into our muscles and brains and stays there, hidden from the immune system in protective cysts. About a third of people in developed countries are toxo carriers. The conventional medical wisdom is that toxo causes a brief mono-like illness in otherwise healthy people and becomes dormant thereafter.
However, a growing body of research suggests that toxo can subtly affect human behavior. Carriers are, then, more likely to try to kill themselves, and nearly three times more likely to die in car accidents.
The effects of toxoplasmosis vary by gender in rats and humans. Infected male rats become markedly more impulsive, females not as much. A series of small studies that compared personality tests in carriers and noncarriers found that men with toxoplasmosis were more “expedient, suspicious, jealous, and dogmatic,” whereas female carriers were warmer and more conscientious.