Cat Virus Linked to Prostate Cancer

More than 46,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year in the UK. A parasite spread by cats may be a factor in causing prostate cancer in men. 

Scientists have found that cats carrying the microscopic mite known as Toxoplasma gondiibefore being spread in their faeces, can cause inflammation and the formation of cysts in the prostate gland. 

This chronic inflammation is known to double the risk of developing the cancer. Until now, most researchers thought inflammation was caused by bacteria or viral infections that damage the tissue in the prostate. 

This new study, carried out only on mice, suggests the bug, which is thought to infect a third of the population in the UK, could also be responsible. Humans can be infected by drinking contaminated water, eating unwashed vegetables or handling cat litter trays. 

Dr Travis Jerde, a professor of toxicology at Indiana University and one of the study authors, said: ‘No one should be getting rid of their cat because of this study, but precautions should be taken when working or playing in areas where cats may have gone to the bathroom – like a garden or sandbox.’