Originally Posted by takasmom
Thanks for this..very informative. I could see how it would be a concern if you were eating random placenta from someone else...But how would it work exactly eating your OWN?
That's a good question. I'm not exactly sure. But I would imagine that since the genetic differences between individuals of the same species are trivial in the grand scheme of genetics, that there would still be a significant risk involved.
The deciding factor for me, is the fact that to my knowledge individuals of a particular species are not designed to consume themselves or others of the same species - and the existence of TSE's (and the fact that they share cannibalism in common) is proof of that. The risk factor that seems to be common across the board is that the amount of genetic variation between the individual consuming and the individual consumed must be small (i.e., the same species) - which is why there aren't reports of the diseases jumping across species barriers unless the individual consumed is already infected, while the origination of the disease within
a species is sporadic, unexplained, and only solidly linked to the incidence of cannibalism.
It is also quite disturbing that the diseases have only yet been seen in mammals. One distinctive characteristic that most mammals share, is the utilization of a placenta in ontogeny.
By the same token though, the placenta is formed of the same sperm and egg that form the fetus, so if genetic variation is
a significant risk increasing factor, then there may be just enough variation (because of the genetic component formed of the sperm cell) to increase the risk. It would be roughly the genetic equivalent to eating the embryo - who is genetically, a completely separate individual.
Additionally, if by chance genetic variation does
increase risk, then I would be less likely to offer it to my husband, siblings, or friends.