Blood and bones were used to treat everything from gout to nosebleeds. Cannibalism is largely absent and morally frowned upon today, though, let's forget the social quagmire. There are plenty of reasons why you shouldn't eat people these days.
For starters, we now know that human meat is a surprisingly low source of calories compared to other red meat. According to one study, human muscle contains about 1300 calories per kilogram. That's less than beef and nothing compared to bear and boar meat.
Now, you might think this would actually make human burgers a great low calorie alternative. Until you remember, you're probably trying to eat humans because you're starving to death. So low calories is the opposite of what you want. Plus, it's not worth taking the risk.
It turns out, we carry some pretty nasty diseases that make 24 hour food poisoning look like the sniffles. Eat someone raw, and you risk contracting any blood borne diseases they carry. But even if you cook the meat, it still won't always go so well for you.
For example, the Fore people of Papua New Guinea, they would eat the body and brain of deceased family members out of cultural tradition. But that practice stopped after hundreds of people died in the 1950s and 60s from an otherwise rare neurological disorder, which they contracted from eating infected human brains.
The brain tissue contained prions, deadly misfolded proteins that form spongy holes in your brain. They survive the cooking process and if eaten are highly contagious. On the legal side of things, cannibalism falls into a grey area. Oddly enough, cannibalism itself isn't illegal in many countries. But you probably would have committed some crime along the way to get that slab of meat, grave robbing, desecration of a corpse, murder and maybe all of the above.
One exception that won't put you behind bars is if you eat yourself. Yep, that's the thing. It's called auto cannibalism. The most common example today called placentophagy which is when a woman eats her placenta after giving birth. The idea is that it could raise energy levels and reduce the risk of postpartum depression by stabilising hormones.
But the science is still out on whether there's any real benefit. Regardless, this ancient practice has recently found a new life in Western culture. Kim Kardashian and Alicia Silverstone have reportedly done it. There are numerous companies that will grind your placenta into a powder so you could take it like any other vitamin supplement.
However the CDC warns that even this cutting edge form of cannibalism is a bad idea, because it could transfer harmful bacteria from mother to child. So if you have a desire for human meat, maybe try some pork instead. After all, that's what cannibals say we taste like.
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