Common Food-borne pathogen could lead to rare brain cancer, finds study

A new study suggests association between toxoplasma gondii infection and a rare type of brain cancer in adults. The study published in the International Journal of Cancer finds individuals with glioma have higher chances of presence of antibodies to T.gondii. This indicates this group of individuals have previously been infected with T.gondii than a similar group of individuals who were not.

The study carried out by a team of researchers examined the association of T.gondii antibodies computed several years before the diagnosis of cancer and the risk of developing glioma. The participants of the study were from Cancer Prevention Study-II Nutrition Cohort, American Cancer Society and Janus Serum Bank, Norwegian Cancer Registry.

As per scientific evidence, T.gondii a common parasite most commonly transmitted via undercooked meat, which may lead to cysts in the brain. Therefore, reducing exposure to this food-borne pathogen could allow modifiable risk factor for serious brain tumors in adults.

Clinically, glioma – a relatively rare disease is highly fatal. According to published data, in 2018, the number of incidents and deaths due to brain and other nervous system cancers were estimated to be 300,000 and 241,000 respectively. Furthermore, glioma accounts for 80% of malignant brain tumors with a five-year survival rate at a stark 5%.

In addition, the association between T.gondii antibodies and glioma similar in two demographically different groups noted in the study. Precisely, the group from Cancer Prevention Study- II Nutrition Cohort were approximately 70 years old at the time of sampling, whereas that from Janus cohort were about 40 years of age.

This, however, does not imply T.gondi will definitely lead to glioma in all situations.