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Tyra Banks and the Tapeworm Diet

December 29, 2009 |  4:53 pm
Long before they were touted as a way to lose weight, tapeworms hung around in uncooked meat, entering unwary human intestines and stripping malnourished children in impoverished countries of the nutrients from what little food they had. And now, some women in more developed nations are willingly putting these parasites into their bodies to drop a few pounds. 
 
The “tapeworm diet” is making its rounds on the Internet this afternoon, as a "Tyra Banks Show" episode that aired in November makes an encore appearance. On that show, the model-turned-TV-personality interviewed women who said they would willingly ingest a yellowish worm (likely in egg form, rather than its yards-long full-grown counterpart) in order to lose weight.

In a story for the Health section, Elena Conis detailed tapeworms’ documented history with humanity as well as the early 20th century turn toward using the worm as an appetite suppressant. But Conis also points out, “some tapeworm species can bring on not just weight loss, but also malnutrition, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, anemia and the formation of fluid-filled cysts that can damage organs, block circulation and cause seizures.

“The worms (the longest of which can grow to 35 feet) can also put pounds on.”

So if you’re considering scrapping your healthful eating habits and regular exercise for a giant worm … just think about that.

-- Amina Khan

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