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A New Study Says You Shouldn’t Eat Your Placenta After All

By now, you’ve probably heard about women — including female celebrities — eating their placentas after giving birth, whether it be freeze drying the organ into pill form, blending it in a smoothie or cooking it in a frying pan. (Oh, and in case you don’t remember or know what a placenta is, it’s an organ shared by a pregnant mother and her growing fetus, functioning as the lungs, gastrointestinal system, liver and kidneys of the developing child.)

The practice of ingesting the placenta is known as placentophagy, and has become more mainstream thanks to said celebs such as Kim Kardashian, Alicia Silverstone and January Jones. Advocates say eating the placenta prevents post-partum depression, provides an energy boost and encourages breast milk production, among other things. Placentophagy became so popular, a cookbook was even released with ideas on how to incorporate the placenta into meals.

However, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, “there is no scientific evidence for any clinical benefit of human placentophagy.” More than half of the obstetricians and gynaecologists surveyed for the paper said they believe they are uninformed about any risks and benefits to the practice, while 60 per cent reported feeling unsure of whether they should be in favour of it or not. The study also said any benefits seeming to come from eating the placenta is most likely a placebo effect.

Dr. Alex Farr, a gynaecologist from the Medical University of Vienna who is one of the journal’s authors, even went as far to say that placentophagy “borders on cannibalism.”

“Medically speaking, the placenta is a waste product. Most mammals eat the placenta after birth, but we can only guess why they do so,” Dr. Farr said in a statement posted to Science Daily, adding the placenta does not contain high amounts of nutrients like iron, selenium and zinc and that “heavy metals have been found to accumulate in the placenta during pregnancy.”

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This study comes a few months after a warning on placenta eating was issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, when a new mother in Oregon transmitted a potentially deadly blood infection to her newborn through breastfeeding. It was believed the infection was caused by the placenta capsules the mom had been ingesting since birth, according to The Washington Post.

Basically, there’s no scientific evidence that eating your placenta is beneficial, and the risks are surrounding ingestion are still being discovered. So yeah, maybe you shouldn’t be eating it after all.