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A Placenta at the Table

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In a paper certain to rile up some debate (and maybe a few stomachs), neuroscientists at the University of Buffalo and Buffalo State College ponder the potential health benefits of human mothers consuming components of their afterbirth — maybe non-mothers and males, too.

They're not talking about the entire placenta, but possibly encapsulated portions of it. They note that elsewhere in nature, the practice of placentophagia is widespread and significant, increasing the effects of pregnancy-mediated analgesia, triggering caretaking behaviors, and suppressing postpartum pseudopregnancy.

According to Mark Kristal, a neuroscientist at the University of Buffalo who has studied placentophagia for more than 40 years, the biggest question isn't what would happen, but rather why humans don't already mimic other animals in this practice.

"Why don't humans engage in placentophagia as a biological imperative as so many other mammals apparently do?" asked Kristal. "We clearly do not do this as a matter of course today and apparently, never have. Perhaps for humans, there is a greater adaptive advantage to not eating the placenta."

Kristal and colleagues urge further investigation. Even if scientists never learn why humans don't practice placentophagia, they might be able to extrapolate medicinal or behavioral benefits.

The paper is published in the journal Ecology of Food and Nutrition.

 

BODY OF KNOWLEDGE

One in 12 men is colorblind. (Explains some guys' clothing choices.)

 

GET ME THAT.

STAT!

The country with the highest percentage of daily smokers is Austria (36.3 percent); followed by Greece (35 percent); Hungary (33.8 percent); Luxembourg (33 percent); and Turkey (32.1 percent), according the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

 

NUMBER CRUNCHER

A grilled Cheese-a-Roo sandwich from the Outback Steakhouse contains 394 calories, 227 from fat. It has 25.2 grams of total fat or 39 percent of the recommended total fat intake for a 2,000-calorie daily diet.

It also contains 66 milligrams of cholesterol (22 percent); 1,133 mg of sodium (47 percent); 29.3 grams of total carbohydrates (10 percent); 1.5 grams of dietary fiber (6 percent) and 12.9 grams of protein.

 

DOC TALK

Perfed appy — When an infected appendix bursts (perforates) and spills into the gut.

 

PHOBIA OF THE WEEK

Cremnophobia — fear of precipices.

 

NEVER SAY DIET

The Major League Eating speed-eating record for chocolate candy bars is two pounds in six minutes, held by Eric Booker.

 

BEST MEDICINE

Patient: "Doctor, I swallowed a bone!"

Doctor: "Are you choking?"

Patient: "No, I really did."

 

OBSERVATION

"If fitness came in a bottle, everybody would have a great body."

— American actress and singer Cher (1946-)

 

LAST WORDS

"I haven't had champagne for a long time."

— Russian playwright Anton Chekhov (1860-1904). His doctor gave him champagne after all attempts to ease his tuberculosis symptoms had failed.

To find out more about Scott LaFee and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2012 CREATORS.COM


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