Monday, June 22, 2015
Almost exactly two years ago in an entry called “Is It Real Science?” I used a couple of current news articles to show the difference between real science and the kind of celebrity endorsement tactics used to promote questionable health claims. One of them presented their findings along with specific information about how a particular experiment was set up and conducted. The other talked only about how the practice of placentophagy had been endorsed by famous people with no scientific or medical credentials.
That was that; until very recently when I heard the cry of “yucky-poo” coming from the direction of our computer. Placentophagy is the practice of new mothers taking the placenta (afterbirth) out of the hospital to eat at home. (The phagy ending comes into English from the Greek phage meaning one who eats.) The latest research confirms what we suspected all along.
The article from Fox News that prompted the outburst, tells us that there is no science supporting the practice. “Researchers at Northwestern University found that the common practice of eating the placenta after childbirth does not have health benefits— and may have unknown risks.” Cautions include that “storage and preparation are not regulated, and dosage is inconsistent,” and we don’t yet even know what is in it.
That is not enough to stop new, possibly nursing mothers who are usually very careful about what they put into their bodies, but who put more faith in pop culture than in science or their own doctors. We are told “the practice has increased in popularity, with celebrities such as Kourtney Kardashian talking about the benefits.”
To follow such advice is not only extremely poor critical thinking but also irresponsible behavior as the mother of a newborn. Of course regular readers already have known that for a couple of years.