Posted: Apr 29, 2015 1:58 AM Updated: Apr 29, 2015 2:05 AM
Your Healthy Family: The “Tapeworm Diet”
COLORADO SPRINGS – News 5 has uncovered that people are actually ordering the parasite online to try and lose weight. A local doctor who has treated patients with tapeworm infections says this fad diet is one you probably don’t want to choose. “This is a potentially fatal parasitic infection,” said Dr. Scot Lewey with Peak Gastroenterology and Memorial Hospital. But the potential to lose weight without doing the work continues to entice folks to try anything; including ingesting a tapeworm. “The promise has been you can eat whatever you want and still lose weight,” said Lewey. Dr. Lewey says despite the claims of weight loss, this is a health hazard, not a fix. “These worms can infest the body to cause significant malnutrition that is not healthy and can migrate into other parts of the body,” he said. He says the parasite can grow to around 50 feet, but most are 12 inches. While it’s illegal in the United States to sell tapeworm eggs for diet purposes, people have bought them online. Dr. Lewey has treated several patients with a tapeworm, not by choice. One got it from under-cooked sushi. And neither patient showed significant weight loss from the parasite. “They felt hungry, but they had abdominal pain cramps and bloating, gas, diarrhea and did not feel well,” said Lewey. He adds if you’re looking to lose weight, there’s no magic cure, especially from a parasite. “I think this is another one of those snake oil type treatments, and people buy into it because it sounds appealing in some manner or form: you just eat these worms, and they eat your calories while you eat and then you’ll lose weight and it doesn’t take any effort; but it’s fraught with real risks,” he said. These worm infections are reportable to the Centers for Disease Control. The most common in the US is the pork tapeworm which can migrate to the brain, causing death.