Researchers from the United States (U.S.) said food-borne pathogen may be linked to a type of rare brain cancer in adults. The researchers found that people who have glioma are more likely to have antibodies to toxoplasma gondii than a similar group that was cancer-free. That indicated that they were previously infected with the parasite, which is most commonly acquired from undercooked meat. A glioma is a type of tumour that starts in the glial cells of the brain or the spine. Glioma is a relatively rare, but often fatal, cancer. About 80 per cent of malignant brain tumours are gliomas. They have a five-year relative survival rate of just five per cent. The investigators examined the association between T. gondii antibodies measured several years before the cancer was diagnosed and the risk of developing a glioma.
This test looks for antibodies against Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) infection in the blood. T. gondii is a parasite that can infect people when they: Eat infected meat, especially lamb, venison, or pork, that hasn’t been fully cooked.
Study participants were from an American Cancer Society Study and the Norwegian Cancer Registry’s Janus Serum Bank. “This does not mean that T. gondii definitely causes glioma in all situations. Some people with glioma have no T. gondii antibodies, and vice versa,” researcher James Hodge said. He’s an epidemiologist at the society. “The findings do suggest that individuals with higher exposure to the T. gondii parasite are more likely to go on to develop glioma,” said coauthor Anna Coghill, from the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute in Tampa, Fla. “However, it should be noted that the absolute risk of being diagnosed with a gliomaremainslow, andthese findings need to be replicated in a larger and more diverse group of individuals.” The authors noted that “if future studies do replicate these findings, ongoing efforts to reduce exposure to this common pathogen would offer the first tangible opportunity for prevention of this highly aggressive brain tumour.”