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Medicine Stats United Kingdom Science

Cats Not Linked To Brain Cancer After All 102

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the except-for-nyan-cat dept.
sciencehabit writes with good news for cat owners everywhere. From the article: "Last year, cat owners got a scare when a team of French researchers reported a possible link between felines and brain cancer. Cat feces can harbor a single-celled parasite called Toxoplasma gondii, and the scientists found that nations with higher rates of human T. gondii infection also have higher incidences of brain cancer. A new study challenges those findings [paywalled after the first view]. Scientists examining a cohort of more than 600,000 British women found that cat owners were no more likely to develop brain cancer than their cat-free counterparts, despite their presumably greater risk of exposure to T. gondii." The study in question mostly just found that T. gondii infection rates aren't correlated with cat ownership after all, but there's still no word on whether our friend the parasite causes cancer or not.
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Cats Not Linked To Brain Cancer After All

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  • by Joce640k (829181) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @10:41AM (#41080995) Homepage

    There might be *other* things in those nations which cause brain cancer, eg. a national addiction to eating garlic sausages in vinegar. Or something.

  • however (Score:5, Funny)

    by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @10:41AM (#41080999) Homepage Journal

    They are correlated to finding poop in boxes in your home.

  • Again... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    A cat infected with toxoplasma gondii will excrete the parasite in the feces for some days (weeks) after first infection, and then will stop doing it forever.
    Most toxoplasmosis infectiosn in humans are due to consuming uncooked meat or poorly washed vegetables.

    • by Joce640k (829181)

      A cat infected with toxoplasma gondii will excrete the parasite in the feces for some days (weeks) after first infection, and then will stop doing it forever.

      What about humans who have it? Do they need continual re-exposure, too?

    • by Sentrion (964745)

      My cat's in your garden...pooping on your vegetables.

  • by muon-catalyzed (2483394) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @10:46AM (#41081079)
    Half of the world's human population carry a Toxoplasma infection. [wikipedia.org] So better choose your bridge jump off point.
  • by citab (1677284) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @10:48AM (#41081103)

    I'm still having my regular scheduled Cat Scans ....

  • by cervesaebraciator (2352888) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @10:52AM (#41081157)

    The study in question mostly just found that T. gondii infection rates aren't correlated with cat ownership after all, but there's still no word on whether our friend the parasite causes cancer or not.

    Then I'd suggest the headline should be Cats May Not Be Linked To Brain Cancer After All. For where the cats go, so goes toxoplasma and we should know well enough, unless we're Reader's Digest or Prevention magazine, not to jump to a conclusion that the study did not demonstrate.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      not to jump to a conclusion that the study did not demonstrate.

      The study demonstrated that there is no correlation between cat ownership and brain cancer. So the headline is, in fact, correct as is and yours is completely incorrect. Your headline would only be correct if there was a slight correlation, but none whatever was found.

      • Cat ownership != cats.
        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          Cat ownership == cats, cats != cat ownership.

          • You are wrong. Cat ownership == there is a cat involved. But cat ownership != cats.

            Cat ownership is not linked to brain cancer after all. But the verdict is still out on if encountering cats and cat poop in ways other than cat ownership is linked to brain cancer.
            • by mcgrew (92797) *

              Cat ownership is linked to cats. People who don't own cats are far less likely to come in contact with their excrement. If cat owners have no more cancers than non-cat owners, then you can't say there's a link between cats and cancer, which is exactly what TFA said.

              • People who don't own cats are far less likely to come in contact with their excrement.

                Not necessarily true. People that own cats know the excrement is there and take appropriate precautions. People that don't own cats aren't going to be watching out for cat excrement in their yards and gardens.

                But you're going off my point now.

  • by T.E.D. (34228) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @10:54AM (#41081193)

    I happened to be looking at this yesterday after hearing an NPR story. It turns out that T. gondii [wikipedia.org] is actually a mind-altering parasite. It reproduces in the guts of rodents, and then in order to get back into its preferred cat hosts, has actually evolved to alter the brains of rodents [wikipedia.org] to make them find the odor of cats sexually appealing. Yes, you heard that right.

    It puts a whole new spin on all those Tom & Jerry cartoons, now doesn't it?

    Of course your next question is if it does something similar to infected humans. Supposedly, it has been shown to cause a statistically significant increase in car accidents among the infected. Perhaps that study will be countered too though.

    • Of course your next question is if it does something similar to infected humans. Supposedly, it has been shown to cause a statistically significant increase in car accidents among the infected.

      Yes, because it is a well-known fact that cats like to nibble on traffic accident cadavers...

    • by Hatta (162192)

      And as one might suspect, Toxoplasmosis is linked [cdc.gov] to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

      Interestingly, as drug warriors grasp at ever fewer straws, they've found a tenuous linkage between Cannabis use and schizophrenia. Somehow they never propose criminalizing felines though.

      • by Chris Mattern (191822) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @12:35PM (#41082579)

        Somehow they never propose criminalizing felines though.

        When cats are outlawed, only outlaws will have cats!

      • by N0Man74 (1620447)

        Somehow they never propose criminalizing felines though.

        Quick! Everyone tell your congressmen about the original story that linked cats to cancer, before they hear it was wrong!

        And on a similar note... can we keep this story on the down-low? I would like to continue using the original study as an excuse not to have cats around when I move in with my girlfriend.

      • Interestingly, as drug warriors grasp at ever fewer straws, they've found a tenuous linkage between Cannabis use and schizophrenia. Somehow they never propose criminalizing felines though.

        They found a tenuous link? Must make them pine for the good ol' days when they just fabricated a strong link between the two.

    • by steelfood (895457)

      From wikipedia [wikipedia.org]:

      Studies have also shown behavioral changes in humans, including lower reaction times and a sixfold increased risk of traffic accidents among infected, RhD-negative males, as well as links to schizophrenia including hallucinations and reckless behavior. Recent epidemiologic studies by Stanley Medical Research Institute and Johns Hopkins University Medical Center indicate that infectious agents may contribute to some cases of schizophrenia. A study of 191 young women in 1999 reported higher intelligence and higher guilt proneness in Toxoplasma-positive subjects.

      So yes, there is good reason to believe that this can affect human brains as well. What precisely the effect is hasn't been determined yet though.

    • NPR's late to the party. All of this has been common internet knowledge for YEARS.

  • Imho, too much science these days is just vague statistical studies.

    Where are the times when science was about actually discovering new things, where you could actually see the effect of it?

    • Imho, too much science these days is just vague statistical studies.

      Where are the times when science was about actually discovering new things, where you could actually see the effect of it?

      Keep in mind that your personal view of science is determined by the pop-culture articles you read, or in this case the pop-culture summary of a pop-culture article referring to a particular scientific paper. I assure you that the "times when science was about actually discovering new things" are still upon us.

      • Got any examples?

        Well, to be honest, I can find examples myself, there are still things about science that I find really exciting, such as LHC and the mars landers :)

        • by AvitarX (172628)

          Genetic engineering would be a quick example IMO.

          A lot of the new targeted (location wise) medicines. Stem cell research starting to bear fruits. These are all medical and off the top of my head.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      We ran out of those things. The low hanging fruit is gone pretty quick.

  • They didn't want their evil plot revealed. Probably they just did some genetic engineering on the virus to affect the researchers' judgement. There's plenty of evidence the cats have this capability. I used to find stray bird parts and decapitated rats disgusting. Now I consider them "cute".

  • At least half of the people who I know that own cats are men. Was there a reason for only selecting women? Or are they looking for cat ladies to research against? Inquiring minds want to know.

  • Tommy from "Trainspotting" died from Toxoplasmosis. "It's like an abcess in your brain." Pretty nasty. One of the greatest movies of all time though.
    • You really must read other works by Irvine Welsh; Filth, Ecstasy, Marabou Stork Nightmares, Acid House. All fantastic and wickedly insane novels. It's like an abscess in your fiction, but a worthy one.
  • "Always aim at complete harmony of thought and word and deed. Always aim at purifying your thoughts and everything will be well."

  • Do you mean to tell me I killed Fluffy for nothing???
  • I guess they forgot to factor in the fact that higher infection rates might indicate worse healthcare, worse pollution levels, worse overall sanitation, a climate more friendly to pathogens, and a generally more cancer-inducing set of circumstances before they drew a line straight from cats to cancer. Wow, slashdot makes me feel like a better than average paid, professional, career scientist every day :-P
  • Do cats infected with the bug have a higher incidence of brain cancer? Seems like they would if it has that affect on humans.
  • by Penurious Penguin (2687307) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @11:38AM (#41081815) Homepage Journal
    Glad that's out of the way; though toxoplasmosis and schizophrenia [sciencedaily.com] don't seem too appealing either.

    I may be blind to the more profound, esoteric aspects of the cat, but I do marvel at what high prices some will pay for a haughty ball of animated fur.
    My suggestions to curb this perilous market are as follows, but first and foremost, it could become unlawful to possess an unshaven cat. This would discourage the majority of prospective cat ownership, as no healthy person wants a five pound worm with claws and fangs.

    Exchanges, or replacement-cats would be comprised of internal motors, synthetic fur shells with a stuffable, washable center into which they could be figuratively "fed", and an exit module by which they could also be un-fed.
    Some form of appropriately colored reusable putty would be included in the exchange. This putty would serve two purposes:
    1.) To supplement food, thus saving money and resources and one's nose.
    2.) To be placed into a litter-box for a genuine looking effect.
    For the lower-maintenance, upgrade model, a wireless link would be installed. Through a very cute web interface, owners could enter credit-card numbers and refill codes to control the figurative health of the cat. It would bloat or compress upon signals received in accordance with funds transferred or not transferred. The cat would in extreme situations of over or underfunding, either gently explode or implode, but show only trivial, charming contractions under normal circumstances. There would of course, be settings, such as adjustable mewing, retractable thorns to cut one's self on or destroy furniture with, etc.

    Those are my suggestions.
    • That doesn't work, hairless cats [wikipedia.org] are actually quite popular. It even gives owners an excuse to put cute little sweaters on them.
      • You have shattered the capstone of my argument with the cudgel of reality. Alas, people are more insane than I feared. Worms endowed with phantasmagorical agility and slashing weapons! Behold a wicked world!
  • by SternisheFan (2529412) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @11:44AM (#41081881)
    The original story was written by a dog.
  • The Science News Cycle [phdcomics.com]:

    * Your Research : Conclusion: A is correlated with B (=0.56), given C, assuming D and under E conditions.
    * University PR Office: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Scientists Find Potential Link Between A and B (Under certain conditions)
    * News Wire Organizations: A causes B, say Scientists.
    * The Internets: Scientists out to kill us again
    * Cable News: A causes B all the time (we saw it on a blog). What will this mean for Obama?
    * Local Eyewitless News: A: KILLER AMONG US? More at 11.
    * Your Gran

    • by skids (119237)

      * Amateur Internet Cynic: Obviously all scientists are full of it since this one scientific conclusion was misreported by journalism majors.
      * Producer of A: Damn my sales are down, I'd better buy a congresscritter, and some PR.
      * Republican Think Tank: Cretinous Scientists get it wrong again! 9 out of 10 of our relatives with correspondence school degrees agree A is totally harmless.
      * Republican Senator: We have to cut all funding to useless scientific research on any alternatives to A. And mandate the us

  • Title says it all.

1 1 was a race-horse, 2 2 was 1 2. When 1 1 1 1 race, 2 2 1 1 2.

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