Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite that affects 50% of the world’s population, is a fascinating statistic that few people are aware of. Cats transmit this parasite, which resides within human eyes and brains. It is claimed that the parasite can change a person’s personality and make them more appealing.
Several investigations have shown that this is correct. Rats were utilized in a study in 2011. The researchers’ toxoplasma infection made some rats more popular than others in the group.
A more recent study discovered similar findings among people. The study included 178 people who were not infected and 35 people who were sick. When rating each person’s perceived beauty, only face traits were taken into account.
When the results were tabulated, there was a considerable disparity between the two groups. All infected people were regarded to be in better health and to be more beautiful. Infected men and women also had more symmetrical looks, had more sexual partners, had lower BMIs, and were rated as having higher beauty. Furthermore, it was discovered that infected patients exhibited superior overall symmetry.
These findings are consistent with previous rat research. They speculate that the parasite may either directly affect the host’s appearance and facial characteristics to increase the likelihood that they will mate, or that the infection’s byproducts may just happen to be beneficial.
“Framed in an evolutionary framework, the findings suggest that the elevated testosterone levels and the expression of psychopathological symptoms can be seen as the result of the manipulation exerted by Toxoplasma gondii either to reach its definitive host or to increase its spread. Future research can benefit from integrating insights from evolutionary biology and parasite-host interactions with physiology, immunology, and mental health to develop a better understanding of mental health etiology.” (Source: Javier l. Borraz-Leon et al.)
Males infected with Toxoplasma gondii have higher testosterone levels, which may explain the changes in masculine facial features. Healthy people who can afford the physiological costs of having a parasite may also skew the samples of infected people.
However, much more research is needed to fully understand how parasites can profoundly alter human phenotypes at the molecular level.
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