Scientists have discovered that a parasite, commonly transmitted through cat poop, could make a person more sexually attractive.
The research, conducted by scientists at the University of Turku in Finland, suggests that the parasite – known as Toxoplasma gondii, or T. gondii – may alter an individual’s hormones and neurotransmitters. As a result, they may appear more attractive to others. In some cases, the parasite may even make a person’s face appear more symmetrical.
T. gondii is commonly found in the feces of cats. With T-gondii passed on through sex, the study’s researchers believe that the parasite makes the infected host appear more sexually attractive so that it can be passed on to as many other hosts as possible.
Writing in the study, which was published by the journal, PeerJ, researchers concluded,
“Some sexually transmitted parasites, such as T. gondii, may produce changes in the appearance and behavior of the human host, either as a by-product of the infection or as the result of the manipulation of the parasite to increase its spread to new hosts.”
As part of the study, researched infected 35 college students (13 women and 22 men) with T. gondii, before comparing the facial symmetry of the participants with 178 non-infected students.
Facial symmetry has long been associated with attractiveness, as well as indicating health and stronger genes. The research revealed that the infected students had lower levels of ‘fluctuating asymmetry’ compared to the rest of the study group. It also noted that the female participants who were infected also had a lower body mass index and rated themselves as more attractive.
Previous studies have indicated that T. gondii could also increase the level of the hormone, testosterone in men, which in theory, could make males more sexually attractive to others.
But, before you go checking your cat’s litter box, the research has also included some stark warnings about T. gondii. As well as the obvious hygiene and all-round yucky issues of cat poop, the T. gondii parasite comes with other potential health dangers.
Scientists have found that Toxoplasma gondii can cause some people to develop certain mental disorders, including ‘schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder or suicidal tendencies.’ However, the study has indicated that the risk is relatively low.
“It is possible that the apparently non-pathological and potentially beneficial interactions between T. gondii and some of its intermediate hosts, such as rats and humans are the result of co-evolutionary strategies that benefit, or at least do not harm, the fitness of both the parasite and the host,” the report concludes.
So, why hasn’t the idea of a cat poop used as a beauty product been developed?
Aside from the thought of putting a parasite from feline feces on your face being rather unpleasant, the answer is simple. A T. gondii infection is not a rare thing. In fact, it is thought to be prevalent in around 50% of the population.
And once you have been infected, it is highly unlikely that you will get it again. And that would make it a one-time – if at all – beauty treatment. Surely, there are easier ways to get a date.