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Your Cat Can Give You A Parasite That Reduces Fear, Encouraging You To Take More Risks In Life

Cats PhD / Phys

Think about all the things you want to do in life.  

Maybe you've thought about starting a business? Moving to another city?

Most people avoid doing these things, or postpone it for a long time, because they're afraid of failing.

I'm not going to lie, my biggest fear is failure, and I know I'm not the only one.

Humans are great at second guessing themselves, but what if you contract a bug that makes you courageous? A parasite that compels you to do things you fear the most.

This may sound like a load of science fiction, but a new study suggests that a parasite found in cat feces may alter the human brain to make us less fearful.

"The parasite has infected roughly 2 billion people worldwide."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 60 million people in the U.S. carry this cat poop parasite, known as Toxoplasma gondii.

Humans usually contract the parasite through contact with cat feces or under-cooked meat.

The disease is believed to be extremely dangerous to pregnant women, people with AIDS and weakened immune systems, but other people will only experience flu-like symptoms.

Unfortunately, the parasite doesn't leave the body - and that's where things get interesting...

The study, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, discovered a strange correlation.

Researchers sampled saliva from approximately 1,500 college students, testing them for the parasite.

They found that infected students were about 1.4 times more likely to major in business than uninfected students.

And saliva samples from approximately 200 attendees of entrepreneurship events found that individuals who had contracted the parasite were 1.8 times more likely to have actually started their own business.

"Lots of people have business ideas…but don't follow through with actually starting a business because of that fear of failing," said Stefanie Johnson, the lead author of the study. "What I really expect is going on is that [Toxoplasma] is just reducing that natural fear."

That's the "bright side" of the parasite, here's where things get worrisome...

The study also explains that Toxoplasma gondii is linked to a greater risk of "car accidents, mental illness, neuroticism, drug abuse and suicide."

Basically, the parasite affects a lot of chemicals and hormones in your brain that are responsible for important tasks.

So sorry to break it to you, you're not going to turn into a superhuman. Let's leave that supernatural stuff to Marvel and DC.

More research needs to be done, but there's no denying that what these researchers have discovered is interesting.

[H/T: USA Today / Fox News/ NBC News]

Moojan has been a writer at Shared for a year. When she's not on the lookout for viral content, she's looking at cute animal photos. Reach her at moojan@shared.com.