Are Parasites A Common Source of Disease?

American doctors are explicitly taught during medical school and our training that, aside from pinworm infections in children, parasites are not a common cause of disease in this country. Paradoxically, medical students are frequently tested on all manner of parasitical infections, and the clue to the correct answer is always in the travel history provided by the hypothetical patient, such as “just returned from a mission trip to Africa” or “just came back from Mexico where he ate pork.”

Parasites Are More Common Than You Think

But recently, I have been made aware that parasites ARE in fact a source of chronic disease in this country. I am not even citing the CDC’s numbers as they are doubtlessly too low. One can’t find what one doesn’t look for. Different sources estimate that between 70% and 90% of Americans are currently infected with at least one parasite. Not only are they more common than we like to think, but they also appear to be increasing. A case in point is the 238-fold increase in the incidence of parasites in sushi over the last 40 years (ref 1). Adding to the difficulty in assessing true incidence, our common tests will not pick up parasite infections. This is one of the reasons the mythology of “parasites do not cause chronic disease” can persist. We de-worm our animals regularly and have little problem accepting that this can be a chronic source of disease for them, so I am not sure why we imagine ourselves to be immune.

Do Parasites Cause Cancer?

parasites

I recently read “Surviving Cancer and COVID-19 Disease: The Repurposed Drug Revolution” by Dr. Justus Hope (a pseudonym). In it, he presents multiple medications that are FDA-approved for other conditions but also have documented efficacy in treating cancer. Interestingly, one medication that is always included in repurposed-medication anti-cancer regimens is the anti-parasitic mebendazole. On his website for the parasite-testing center ParaWellness, the parasitologist-physician Dr. D’Angelo noted that of the 54 samples he had reviewed in the prior month, 100% of the cancer patients were infected with a parasite (ref 2).

Another class of medication always included in anti-cancer repurposed drug regimens is anti-inflammatories. From the humble aspirin to the anti-inflammatory antibiotic doxycycline, these medications fight inflammation on various fronts, leading to the inhibition of the cancer process. Interestingly, parasites are known to cause inflammation (ref 3) as well, so it is hardly surprising to find that they often coexist with cancers. I doubt that they are however, it seems a causative factor in cancer, and it seems that they just “pile on” when they see a compromised immune system in a way that will surprise many.

How Does the Full Moon Affect Parasites?

So I don’t believe parasites cause cancer, but if you are looking for something that sounds tinfoil-hat-ish but is actually true, it is that parasites are more active during the full moon. Absolutely true. Melatonin is decreased by light exposure (ref 4), so it stands to reason that our melatonin levels are lower when there is a full moon. As serotonin is a melatonin precursor, the pipeline gets backed up, so to speak, and serotonin levels increase as less is converted into melatonin. Apparently, this extra serotonin is like drinking a couple of espresso shots for parasites; they use it to become more active and to mate (ref 5). So those in the know time their regular parasite treatments based on the lunar cycle.

I think I have learned enough about parasites for the present but will revisit this topic as there is so much yet to learn about. My next article will be about a topic very near and dear to my heart, and that is bone health. And in fact, calcium relates to heart disease in a way that most will be surprised! While you are waiting for that next blog article, you might want to search the terms “Coke on pork,” and watch one of the many videos that result from that search. But maybe not before a dinner of pork chops. For more information contact us today!

References:

  1. https://www.washington.edu/news/2020/03/19/sushi-parasites-have-increased-283-fold-in-
    past-40-years/
    (Accessed 9/7/22)
  2. https://parawellnessresearch.com/articles/parasites-and-cancer-the-connection/ (Accessed
    9/7/22).
  3. Chai JY, Jung BK, Hong SJ. Albendazole and Mebendazole as Anti-Parasitic and Anti-Cancer
    Agents: an Update. Korean J Parasitol. 2021;59(3):189-225.
  4. Ostrin LA. Ocular and systemic melatonin and the influence of light exposure. Clin Exp Optom.
    2019 Mar;102(2):99-108.