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Woman swallows tapeworm to lose weight

Published On: Aug 20 2013 09:32:56 AM CDT
Updated On: Aug 20 2013 02:03:37 PM CDT
Tapeworm, parasite

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A woman in Iowa goes to extremes to lose weight -- she swallows a tapeworm.

The woman told her doctor she bought the parasite online and ingested it as an extreme way to drop some pounds, the Des Moines Register reported.

Stumped, the doctor called the Iowa Department of Health for guidance.

The department's medical director, Dr. Patricia Quinlisk, advised an anti-worm medication and then recounted the incident in her weekly email to public health workers around Iowa.

“Ingesting tapeworms is extremely risky and can cause a wide range of undesirable side effects, including rare deaths,” Quinlisk wrote, according to the Register. “Those desiring to lose weight are advised to stick with proven weight loss methods; consuming fewer calories and increasing physical activity.”

Tapeworms can live for years in the intestines and grow to several feet long, according to The Associated Press.

They can be accidentally ingested by eating undercooked meat.