What Are the Health Risks of Cannibalism?

Learn about the health risks of cannibalism, including prion transmission and Kuru disease. Stay informed and stay safe.

What Are the Health Risks of Cannibalism?
Photo by Christopher Boswell / Unsplash

Cannibalism, the practice of consuming the flesh of one's own species, presents a myriad of health risks rooted in the unique nature of human biology and the potential for disease transmission.

Viruses exhibit specificity to their host species, reducing the likelihood of cross-species transmission.

Consumption of human flesh contaminated with viruses like HIV poses a significant risk of transmission to the consumer.

The link between cannibalism and the Kuru disease, a neurodegenerative disorder caused by a mutated prion protein predominantly spread through cannibalistic practices, serves as a compelling example of the health risks associated with this practice.

Additionally, the consumption of human flesh can lead to the transmission of prion diseases such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, impacting the brain and nervous system.

Throughout history, various cultures have engaged in cannibalistic activities for religious or ritualistic purposes, but the associated health risks have led to a decline in such practices.

Beyond the tangible health risks, cannibalism raises ethical and moral considerations regarding the treatment of human remains and the sanctity of human life.

The human body's susceptibility to disease transmission and the potential for severe neurological disorders make cannibalism a practice fraught with peril, prompting a deeper contemplation of ethical conduct and human dignity.