On Thursday South Africa was confronted by a horrible little news story about a jealous man who had killed his rival and was found eating the victim’s heart. There are 1000 reasons why cannibalism is wrong, but there’s one very good health reason: it can destroy your brain.
Cannibalism is bad for you in a truly karmic way: if you eat human brains, you could get a disease that returns the favour, and it’s called kuru.
Kuru will eat your brain, and there is no cure.
What Is Kuru?
Kuru is rare. The only place it’s ever been found is in the Fore tribe in Papua, New Guinea. The disease has declined over the years, but at its peak in the 1950’s, for women of the Fore tribe,kuru was the main cause of death. The reason? It was customary for the Fore tribe to eat their dead as part of the funeral rite. When scientists had worked out what was causing kuru, cannibalism pretty much stopped in the 1960’s, and so did kuru.
The Only Cure For Kuru Is Prevention
Once anyone gets this disease – called a Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy (TSE) – there is no cure and it kills. Simply explained, TSEs are a traffic jam of bent-out-of-shape proteins, or prions, in your brain*.
Once in the brain, prions mess with your neurological functions and cause these symptoms:
• loss of balance
It can lie dormant for up to 60 years, but once it gets going, the patient only has a few years to left to live – at the outside. The marks of kuru can be clearly seen in an autopsy as it leaves the grey matter of the brain full of craters. Um, eeuw?
Ever Heard Of Mad Cow Disease?
Kuru may be very rare, but there’s another TSE which is much more well-known: bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or Mad Cow disease. This is also a prion-based illness, and happens when cows are fed bits of other cows. Basically, cannibalism.
So sure, we know it’s wrong, but now we also know that it’s deeply unhealthy.
As if we needed a reason not to eat each other!
* Spotlight: Why Cannibalism is Bad for You – Jason Hayes
– See more at: http://healthmap.org/site/diseasedaily/article/spotlight-why-cannibalism-bad-you-72612#sthash.UW8oBWpi.dpuf