Eat, Eat, Eat Tapeworms!

lose-weight-fast1In her book Seabiscuit, Laura Hillenbrand states that in the 1930s racehorse jockeys trying to lose weight would swallow a capsule containing a tapeworm egg. The worms would then mature in the jockeys’ stomachs and eat whatever food was dropped their way.


I was appropriately shocked by this statement when reading the book and decided to block it from my memory. Then recently I saw a slew of old advertisements and came across one hawking sanitized tapeworms as a way to eat, eat, eat! and lose, lose, lose! all at the same time.


{Proof our current state of affairs that has us wanting something for nothing isn’t so startling… we must be dealing with a human desire that’s been around since the dawn of time!}


The re-emergence of the advertisement did make me want to do a little research on the topic, so, as a true friend to you, here’s a bit of knowledge I discovered about tapeworms and possible human consumption:


  • An adult tapeworm can grow up to 50 feet long and live up to 20 years. Tapeworm eggs are even worse, as the larvae that emerge from them are prone to burrow out of your intestines and find homes elsewhere in your body.
  • A tapeworm doesn’t have a digestive system of its own. It absorbs nutrients (mostly carbohydrates and sugars) that have already been partially broken down by the host’s digestive system.
  • For most people, the goal of losing weight is to look better. However, as a tapeworm steals certain vitamins from your body, notably vitamin B12, you’ll suffer ill health due to a shortage of those nutrients. Sure, you might slim down, but no one is going to be impressed with your sickly appearance.
  • Tapeworms can be found in raw meat, but thoroughly freezing meat at 14 degrees F (-10 degrees C) for 10 days or making sure it is thoroughly cooked will kill any parasites.


No one can definitively say if tapeworms have been used as a real dieting technique but there’s a decent amount of evidence that you wouldn’t look very nice if you used a tapeworm to accomplish this, anyway!


It’s easy for me to shake my head over this concept – and be legitimately grossed out at the thought of ingesting a parasite that is often found in feces!


Then I pause and think of the people who are willing to embrace colonics and laxatives, liquid diets, shoot poison into their foreheads, or drink animal urine as weight loss techniques.


Perhaps we should work a little harder at appreciating people for who they are rather than what they look like and establishing our own self-discipline, and a little less at comparing ourselves to others and throwing away common sense for an image of perfection.


Just my two cents.


What do you think about this?


Thanks to Cecil Adams, and Ed Grabianowski for contributing to this post.



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