A video on social media claims that eating bugs cause cancer or lung disease. We fact-checked and found the claim to be Mostly False.
A video on Facebook referred to a research paper published in 2019 titled ‘A parasitological evaluation of edible insects and their role in the transmission of parasitic diseases to humans and animals’ to claim that eating bugs cause cancer or lung disease.
The claimed video further referred to another research paper published in 2009 titled ‘Potential role of chitinase 3-like-1 in inflammation associated carcinogenic changes of epithelial cells’ to claim that chitin is one of the causal agents of cancer.
The claimed video also said that ‘the powerful 0.1% want us lower castes to eat bugs, while they save the best for themselves’ because ‘they want us all to get sick and die’.
Does eating bugs cause cancer or lung disease?
No. The research paper referred to in the video itself does not confirm the claim. We got to know from the methodology section of the research paper that the researchers took samples of insects from 300 farms and found disease-causing parasites in 91 farms. However, it is not clear enough whether eating insects from these farms will cause disease in humans. Also, it is not clear whether any clinical testing has been done to identify the number of parasites that can cause disease in humans.
This research papers also talk about unhygienic practices including feeding insects moldy food and feces within these farms. It is not clear from these research papers whether such practices are followed within the sample farms or other farms as well. Also, we do not know whether parasites are present within the animal feed.
Besides this, we also researched and found the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website which informs that meat may contain disease-causing parasites. However, a document also informs that the number of parasites in meat can be reduced with preventative farming practices.
In context with chitin, we found that the claim is partially incorrect. The claimed video informs that ‘we cannot digest it (chitin), and it is known to cause several health issues with humans who consume it, including respiratory issues and the accelerated growth of cancer cells.’
Chitin is a fibrous material present in the exoskeleton of arthropods and the cell walls of fungi. Evidence suggests that humans cannot digest chitin, however, it is not an issue. The undigested food passes through the intestine and excretes from the stool. On the contrary, a research paper informs that increasing fiber consumption is considered good for health.
We also went through the research paper referred to in the claimed video and found that it is an exploratory study that analyzed the role of chitinase, an enzyme that breaks down chitin, in generating a series of harmful and disease-causing responses within the body. This research paper nowhere associates the consumption of chitin with inflammation or cancer and lung disease.
Besides this, we researched and found no evidence that has discussed the health impacts of chitin in humans.
In context with the claim, “The powerful 0.1% want us lower castes to eat bugs, while they save the best for themselves’ because ‘they want us all to get sick and die’, it is not clear to whom the statement is referred. Many international organizations have put their stance forward on this topic. From this evidence hyperlinked in the previous statement, it is clear that the possibility of parasites causing illness among humans cannot be negated completely. Hence, we need more studies to hold the claim true.
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