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Study: Female Owners of Cats More Prone to Suicide

  • VOA News

A woman holds her Selkirk Rex at cat exhibition in Fleurus, Belgium, Jan. 28, 2012.

A woman holds her Selkirk Rex at cat exhibition in Fleurus, Belgium, Jan. 28, 2012.

Researchers have found that women who own cats have an increased risk of suicide and mental health problems due to a common parasite found in their pet's litter bins.

A study found that women infected with the feline parasite Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) were one-and-a-half times more likely to attempt suicide then those who are not infected.

It says the risk for self-harm increased for those with higher levels of antibodies to the parasite present in their bloodstream.

The study involved more than 45,000 women in Denmark and was published online in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Researchers say the parasite infects about one in three people worldwide, but usually causes few or no symptoms. The T. gondii parasite lives in the intestines of cats. People can become infected by changing cat litter boxes, or by ingesting contaminated and undercooked meat, unwashed vegetables or infested water.
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