Want to lose weight fast?! Try Cannibalism!

Are you looking for that life-changing meal, or a way to spice up you ordinary meals? Try this delicacy – human flesh. Hannibal Lecter offers an entreating recipe, his personal favorite, “Human liver with Fava Beans”, which promises to electrify the taste buds and fill the tummy.

Preparation and Cooking:

“Liver cut in cubes and sautéed in a butter/olive oil combo with caramelized onions. Basically, it’s a Venetian recipe, served with a Tuscan-leaning fava bean stew seasoned with rosemary. Chef’s observation: Serve with a nice glass of Chianti.”

Not to your fancy? While eating your fellow neighbor is never the kindest gesture, nor may the taste of human flesh be exactly appetizing, 20th century New Guinean tribes practicing cannibalism could have had a hankering for this particular recipe. Sadly, eating your fellow man, or species member sometimes comes with a high price – kuru

Kuru is a neurodegenerative disease related to Creutzfeldt-Jakobs disease, and the infamous bovine spongiform encephalopathy also known as “Mad Cow”. Infection has been attributed to viruses, but also prions. Prions are altered brain proteins capable of changing “healthy” brain proteins into prions creating clumps of prions. Clumps of these prions result in Spongiform Encephalopathy, or the brain taking on a sponge-like appearance due to brain tissue degradation. Symptoms include: loss of coordination, paralysis, dementia, slurring of speech, and visual disturbances, and dementia (kuru). This disease can incubates up to thirty years in its victim and unfortunately it’s almost always fatal. Kuru and other prion diseases can be passed down from generation to generation.

Carlson Gajdusek first identified the Kuru disease in the central highlands of Papua New Guinea. Interestingly family members ritually ate their kin in a mortuary practice referred to as “transumption”. Children and women consistently consumed the flesh and the brains of kuru victims, yet adolescent boys and men did not. Hereditary kuru in family members can be explained by women ingesting misfolded prions and passing it onto offspring (Haïk and Brandel). For a separate study it would be interesting for know the anthropological reasons why children and women ate human flesh and not men.

Oddly, the symptoms of Kuru and other neurodegenerative disorders are similar to the characteristics of a zombie, our current case study subject for PS374. For our type I zombie (slow and lumbering) is it possible that they may have some form of prion disease or virus that leads to spongiform encephalopathy leading to the impaired, or loss of regions of the brain such as the hippocampus, or cerebellum? Takeaway message from koru’s disease – human flesh is not healthy.

Works Cited

kuru. (n.d.) Dorland’s Medical Dictionary for Health Consumers. (2007). Retrieved February 17 2015 from http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/kuru

Haïk S1Brandel JP, Infectious prion diseases in human: cannibalism,iatrogenicity and zoonoses. (2014). Infection Genetic Evolution

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