Most people have tried a fad diet or a ‘miracle’ pill in hopes of rapidly shedding a few pounds, but the length some will go to in order to lose weight these days is out of control. Recently, an Iowa woman swallowed a parasitic tapeworm in order to trim her waistline.
Perhaps in a moment of deep regret, the woman made a visit to her doctor after purchasing the worm off the Internet and consuming it. Understandably so, the doctor had never dealt with such an absurd situation and immediately contacted the state’s public health department for advice.
Dr. Patricia Quinlisk, the medical director of the Iowa Department of Public Health, recommended an anti-worm medication to rid the woman of the parasite. Dr. Quinlisk communicated the event in an e-mail to public health workers around the state as a warning, noting that websites have been selling tapeworms as a weight-loss aid.
Ingesting tapeworms is extremely risky and can cause a wide range of undesirable side effects, including rare deaths,’ Quinlisk reported. ‘Those desiring to lose weight are advised to stick with proven weight loss methods- consuming fewer calories and increasing physical activity.
According to a vintage advertisement spotlighted by the National Women’s History Museum’s website, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, ads promoted ‘easy to swallow,’ ‘sanitized tapeworms’ to combat fat- ‘the ENEMY that is shortening your life.’
These horrifically destructive parasitic worms can grow up to 30 feet long and live in the intestines of animals and humans, sometimes by way of consuming under-cooked meat. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Taenia saginata tapeworm may cause mild to severe symptoms, including: abdominal pain, loss of appetite, upset stomach, diarrhea, seizures, anemia and malnutrition.
In order to destroy a worm in one’s body, doctors will prescribe an anti-worm medication, which will contract all the muscles in the parasite’s body, killing it. Once dead, a person can safely pass the worm through the intestines and out of the body.
Most cannot fathom feeling so desperate to lose weight that they willing invite a parasite to dwell inside their intestines. However, the fact that some people suffer so severely with body images that they disregard health concerns in order to slim down may be a red flag.
In today’s society, standards of beauty are as extreme as the diets used to achieve it. Nonetheless, if a person feels so hopeless that they will go to any measure to change their body, it may be time to self-reflect. The foundation to looking and feeling good begins with eating right and being physically active. Take baby steps and begin with the basics.