As of late, we have become increasingly aware of the ability of a virus to wreak havoc on our bodies, but many of us may not be as familiar with the threat of parasites. 

Did you know that parasites can cause cancer? 

A study at The International Agency for Research concluded that “16% of cancer worldwide is caused by infectious factors, including parasites.” 

A parasite is an organism that gets nourishment and life force from another organism. 

Three main classes of parasites that can cause human disease are: 

  1. Protozoa – single-cell parasites like giardia 
  2. Helminths – parasitic worms like flukes, tapeworms, and nematodes 
  3. Ectoparasites – ticks, fleas, lice, parasitic flies, and mites 

Parasites can thrive in the GI tract and live inside the human body, thus raising the risk of developing certain cancers. 

They do this by: 

  1. Compromising and inhibiting certain organs by creating a ball or tumor 
  2. Perforating holes in the intestines, circulatory system, lungs, liver, and so on 
  3. Depleting us of nutrients which can often result in anemia and can present as lethargy, even after a meal 
  4. Poisoning our system by releasing toxic metabolic byproducts into our bodies 

Where do we get parasites? 

Parasites can be found in contaminated food and water as well as our soil. If you’ve ever eaten sushi, pork, undercooked meat, unwashed produce, drank unfiltered water, visited an undeveloped country, swam in a lake, river, or ocean, used public facilities, walked barefoot outside, you could have parasites. 

Colorectal cancer is one of the most common cancers, which can show a correlation with microbes in the gut. Colorectal cancers have been heavily investigated in association with environmental factors, especially ones contributing to the gut microbiome. 

Other culprits of cancer include gut overgrowth microbes like candida and H. pylori. 

This is why we do functional testing at Sundara Wellness. The GI-MAP (Microbial Assay Plus) comprehensive stool test targets the specific DNA of tested organisms, using quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) technology to detect parasites, bacteria, fungi, and more. 

It can detect and identify many parasites, including the following: 

Giardia – a small parasite found in soil, food, and contaminated water that leads to diarrheal disease known as giardiasis. 

Blastocystis hominis – one of the most common parasites worldwide, associated with IBS and found in the GI tract of both humans and animals. It is transferred by feces as well as tainted food and water. Symptoms of these specific parasites include: nausea, vomiting, chronic diarrhea, constipation, weight loss, and pain in the abdomen. 

Ancylostoma duodenale – a hookworm that is more common in rural areas and can be contracted by walking barefoot or uncleanliness. 

How do I know if I have parasites? 

Signs of parasites include: chronic fatigue, brain fog, immune dysfunction, abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, gas or bloating, rash or itching around the rectum or vulva, anemia, nervousness, allergies, weight gain, seizures, weight loss, cancer, and passing a worm in your stool. 

At Sundara Wellness, we work functionally to help you get to the root of your health concerns. See to book with Audrey or Cody today. 

Audrey Stimpson is a Certified Functional Nutrition Counselor at Sundara Wellness, specializing in gut-brain health, ADHD, autism, autoimmune, and hormonal imbalances. For more information, email Audrey at or on Instagram at @audreystimpson.