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Good News: Cats Aren’t Really Polluting Your Brain with Poop Parasites

Illustration for article titled Good News: Cats Aren’t Really Polluting Your Brain with Poop Parasites

If you've been worrying for the past several months that your cat — your delightfully mischievous, scratch-your-eyelashes-to-wake-you-up-for-food cat — was secretly implanting a mind-warping parasite in your brain with its poop, you can now breathe a sigh of relief because almighty SCIENCE has more or less disproved that controversial supposition. Last year, a group of scientists found that nations with higher rates of humans being infected with Toxoplasma gondii — a single-cell parasite that builds nice ranch-style homes in cat feces — also had higher rates of brain cancer. The link, however, was considered pretty tenuous.

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Now, according to Science magazine, another group of scientists has sorted out this whole cats-cause-brain-cancer business. The scientists studied a group of almost 600,000 women aged 50 and older, tracking the how many developed brain tumors over the course of three years. Eighteen percent of these women owned at least one cat, but the cat-ladies were no more likely to develop brain cancer than their catless counterparts, despite their constant exposure to T. gondii. The moral of the story, of course, is that you can own all the cats you want. Really, just go crazy and start pulling them off the street because, now that science has reassured the tremulous public that cats are harmless (unless they're picked up improperly or something), cats are going to be in demand and nobody wants to get stuck with the mangy, one-eyed cats that are left over after the cat-adopting craze.

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ScienceShot: Cats Don't Cause Cancer [Science]

Image via Ilyashenko Olehsiy/Shutterstock.

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DISCUSSION

Is it weird to anyone else that when they decided to study this, they used a sample of older women? Generally when science wants to study something related to human health, they go find a bunch of middle-aged white dudes. But when they're researching "cat lady" disease, suddenly they realize the benefits of caring about the health of other human beings.

Thanks for making sure I can't get brain cancer from my cat, science. But it would also be cool if you spent some time studying my risks and reactions to heart disease, since that's actually a lot more likely to kill me and other women. Mmkaythx.