There Are a Lot More Downsides to Cannibalism Than You May Realize

Cannibalism is one of those inherently vile acts that’s ranked pretty high up there, along with the relationship going on between Jaime and Cersei Lannister, and keeping Sloth locked up in the basement in The Goonies—he had a heart of gold! But the practice of one human eating the flesh of another is not simply repulsive because it sounds horrid and makes your skin crawl (and turn crispy?), but because it is, biologically, quite dangerous. In their latest video, AsapSCIENCE goes over exactly why that’s the case.

The video is the latest bit of brain food (the metaphorical kind…) from AsapSCIENCE, a YouTube channel with a great deal of science factoids that may change the way you drink your coffee or outrun farts. This time around, the topic is cannibalism, and the question of “What happens when you eat humans?” is answered in fairly profound detail (over the course of three-and-a-half minutes).

Essentially, it turns out that eating human flesh can lead to a giant pile of no-thank-you covered with a big helping of hard-pass sauce. That’s because eating human flesh can lead to contracting bloodborne diseases from the meat (like Ebola), getting infected by E. coli and other bacteria from the human guts, and the possible transmission of prions from the human nerve tissue. Prions are proteins that can “fold in multiple, structurally abstract ways,” and because they can make other proteins fold in weird ways, they are infectious, like a virus. And without DNA, the prions can’t be killed by the heat of an oven, or a microwave, or even an H.P. Lovecraft-style island party bonfire.

1557 engraving of cannibalism based on reports from Brazil. Image: Wikimedia/ Theodor de Bry

If there can possibly be a silver lining to cannibalism—and there isn’t, Dr. Lecter!—it would be the hefty calorie count of the average human, who it turns out contains about 81,000 calories of energy. According to some math done for Drogon in Game of Thrones, a dragon would still need to eat about three well-fed humans a day. But hey, that’s still not cannibalism for them.

What do you think about this eye-opening video on eating human flesh? Try not to gag while typing out your thoughts in the comments below!

Images: YouTube / AsapSCIENCE

Top Stories
More by Matthew Hart
Trending Topics