Pork Tapeworms on the Brain

Pork Tapeworms on the Brain
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Neurocysticercosis, infection with pork tapeworm larvae brain parasites, is an increasingly serious public health problem in the United States, potentially causing headaches, dizziness, seizures, other neurological disorders, and sudden death.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

The most common cause of adult-onset epilepsy in the world is called neurocysticercosis, which literally means pork tapeworms curled up inside our brain.

A review last year out of the Mayo Clinic describes the problem. “Cysticerci [meaning the pork tapeworm larvae] create cavities in the human brain and other body tissue where their tiny bodies grow sometimes into tapeworms two to seven meters in length and can live up to 25 years in the human body.” Seven meters means 23 feet long.

On MRI, so called “wormholes” appear.

On CT scan, there can be so many in the brain at one time, it can appear “similar to a starry sky…Each star is a fluid filled cyst with the beginning of a living, growing tapeworm inside.”

This is what they look like on autopsy.

This is what their face looks like. They have these rings of hooks to grab onto our brain tissue.

Earlier this year, a review was published by the CDC on the public health implications of cysticercosis acquired in the United States. “[Pork tapeworms on the brain] has emerged as a cause of severe neurologic disease in the United States.”

Even after pork tapeworm larvae infect our brain, “some people…remain asymptomatic their entire lives…, while others [can go for years without symptoms, and] then suddenly become very ill with seizures, headaches, and other focal neurological deficits as the larvae multiply within the nervous system…and other tissue[s],” and “can cause sudden death” just due to the pressure buildup in the brain.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

The most common cause of adult-onset epilepsy in the world is called neurocysticercosis, which literally means pork tapeworms curled up inside our brain.

A review last year out of the Mayo Clinic describes the problem. “Cysticerci [meaning the pork tapeworm larvae] create cavities in the human brain and other body tissue where their tiny bodies grow sometimes into tapeworms two to seven meters in length and can live up to 25 years in the human body.” Seven meters means 23 feet long.

On MRI, so called “wormholes” appear.

On CT scan, there can be so many in the brain at one time, it can appear “similar to a starry sky…Each star is a fluid filled cyst with the beginning of a living, growing tapeworm inside.”

This is what they look like on autopsy.

This is what their face looks like. They have these rings of hooks to grab onto our brain tissue.

Earlier this year, a review was published by the CDC on the public health implications of cysticercosis acquired in the United States. “[Pork tapeworms on the brain] has emerged as a cause of severe neurologic disease in the United States.”

Even after pork tapeworm larvae infect our brain, “some people…remain asymptomatic their entire lives…, while others [can go for years without symptoms, and] then suddenly become very ill with seizures, headaches, and other focal neurological deficits as the larvae multiply within the nervous system…and other tissue[s],” and “can cause sudden death” just due to the pressure buildup in the brain.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to DLC, the Universidad de Puerto Rico, Dr. E. Ross, Dr. M. Gupta, Dr DK Pal, Dr F. Gaillard, and Dr. R. Prasad

Doctor's Note

Check out these videos for more about other food-borne illnesses:
Superbugs in Conventional vs. Organic Chicken
Norovirus Food Poisoning from Pesticides
Foster Farms Responds to Chicken Salmonella Outbreaks
Is Meat Glue Safe?
MRSA Superbugs in Meat
Ciguatera Poisoning & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
C. difficile Superbugs in Meat

This continues the brain theme from Avoiding Cholesterol is a No Brainer. See also Avoiding Epilepsy Through Diet, which highlights how even those who abstain from pork may be at risk (i.e., if Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn can get pork tapeworms, anyone can get pork tapeworms).

For more context, also check out my associated blog posts: NutritionFacts.org: the first month, and Contagion: bad timing for CDC report of new swine flu strain.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

23 responses to “Pork Tapeworms on the Brain

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    1. Elaine: All you need is Dr. Greger’s Patented Worm-Away® for 3 easy installments of $19.95.

      Just kidding! :)

      I will address medical and surgical options in tomorrow’s video. Sorry I’m keeping you in suspense! I’ve been told by my web guru friends that I should never make a video longer than 2 minutes because people evidently won’t watch it? So that’s why sometimes I split a single topic into multiple videos.

      Of course the best answer to your question is by not getting it in the first place. 28 grams of prevention is worth 0.45 kilograms of cure :) More on this tomorrow–thank you so much for tuning in. Watch more videos on foodborne parasites here.




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      1. re: “…I should never make a video longer than 2 minutes because people evidently won’t watch it?”

        That’s just silly!! I forwarded one of the longer videos (I think it was 5 minutes) to a friend and she watched it without it being an issue. Your videos are so fascinating that people get hooked quickly. You may have to hook people very quickly, but after that, the length of the video is irrelevant. Well, maybe 1 hour is too long for the web…

        Please don’t skimp on information based on the 2 minute advice. If you make people have to click onto several different pages to watch multiple videos on the same topic, that is going to be much more of a detriment to getting the information out there than having a single longer video.

        That’s my 2 cents. No scientific studies to back it up though. :-)




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    1. I believe the three most common tapeworms are from pork (Taenia solium), fish (Diphyllobothrium species), and beef (Taenia saginata).




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  1. Wow, this is incredible scary! Is there any evidence that eating a vegetarian diet can inhibit the growth of these tapeworms?

    Thanks for this website! It is a huge helpful daily reminder to kept on track with the vegetarian lifestyle!




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  2. I’m rather confused – happens more often lately – but I thought that (1) pork tapeworms, for the most part were gone from our food supply and (2) tapeworms lived in the stomach rather than in the brain. :-))




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    1. A majority of worms migrate thowards all other organs once they have reached a community of a large number. One simple reason is that they don’t have enough space in the intestine, and because they need more “food”. That is why they are called parasites, they eventually eat the host alive, or killed it through organ failure, if the host cannot keep up with their food demand. Another reason why some people eat like crazy.




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  3. I quit eating pork years ago when I found how nasty it truly is. I still ate beef chicken and eggs. Now im more into the vegetarian life style. but after watching this I don’t think I want to eat at food places any more. I don’t want worms in my brain yuck




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  4. Hi,
    I am a 26 year old woman from Norway.
    Could
    you please give me some advice on how to proceed in testing for
    Neurocysticercosis, and also treating it. Can it come from other sources
    as well?

    I suffer from the symptoms you mentioned in an article I read.
    I also have MCS and severe chronic fatigue. Could this all be related?

    Hoping for your very soon reply

    Kind Regards
    Malin B.A.

    Norway




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    1. Chris,

      Seizures can be causes by a host of issues and should not be addressed by diet alone. With that said….there a have been a number of studies using a ketogenic diet for seizures. The problems with these have been that they rarely last for extended periods and have other undesirable side effects. For an overview of this diet approach: http://www.epilepsy.com/learn/treating-seizures-and-epilepsy/dietary-therapies/ketogenic-diet the other side of the coin is that we know this is not a healthful approach, especially long term. Here’s the link to Dr. Greger’s take on the diet. http://nutritionfacts.org/video/atkins-diet-trouble-keeping-it-up/

      I thinks it a clear issue of eating the most nutritious diet possible…….. which translates to the WFPB approach with supplementation. You might also see this video in terms of what not to eat….http://nutritionfacts.org/video/pork-tapeworms-on-the-brain/

      Dr. Alan Kadish moderator for Dr. Greger




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