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Apr 13

Study: Meat-Eaters More Likely to be Aggressive and Suicidal Due to Parasitic Infection

brain

A rat brain that’s infected with the toxoplasma gondii parasite.

A study published last month in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that those infected with the toxoplasma gondi parasite – which is typically obtained through undercooked meat, but also from infected cats and contaminated water – are twice as likely to have a rage disorder, making them more likely to be aggressive and suicidal.

In the study involving 358 adult subjects, researchers from the University of Chicago found that toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection carried by an estimated 30% of all humans, is associated with intermittent explosive disorder and increased aggression.

Intermittent explosive disorder refers to recurrent, impulsive, problematic outbursts of verbal or physical aggression that are disproportionate to the situations that trigger them. IED is thought to affect as many as 16 million Americans—more than bipolar disorder and schizophrenia combined.

“Our work suggests that latent infection with the toxoplasma gondii parasite may change brain chemistry in a fashion that increases the risk of aggressive behavior,” said senior study author Emil Coccaro, the Ellen. C. Manning Professor and chair of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience. “However, we do not know if this relationship is causal, and not everyone that tests positive for toxoplasmosis will have aggression issues,” Coccaro said, adding that additional studies are needed.

The full study can be found by clicking here.

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