Remember Mad Cow Disease? Chances are you avoided hamburgers for a few months and otherwise paid little attention to it. That’s because many of us have long taken comfort in the idea that Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and a slew of other neurodegenerative diseases are genetic/hereditary: we are either destined to develop them or not, and nothing we do can change that.
But since the 1960s, Nobel Laureate Stanley Prusiner’s research has proven otherwise. Indeed, long before the advent of Mad Cow, Prusiner was famous for discovering prions: misfolded proteins that make copies of themselves by causing others to misfold. Mad Cow simply put an international spotlight on the terrifying reality that Dr. Prusiner had discovered decades prior: neurodegenerative diseases can be transmitted from dead organisms to living ones through prions. In the case of Mad Cow, humans that consumed infected cows contracted Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, a rare type of dementia that typically kills carriers within a few years. More recently, Dr. Prusiner discovered that Multiple System Atrophy (“MSA”), a close relative of Parkinson’s Disease that kills its afflicted within 5 to 10 years, can be transmitted the same way.
Although Prusiner posits that most neurodegenerative disorders can be transmitted via the consumption of dead organisms with the appropriate strain of prions, it is important to remember that the vast majority of neurodegenerative cases will always remain hereditary or genetic (and transmission very rare). As scary as they are, Dr. Prusiner’s discoveries should be welcomed by carnivorous communities the world over, as they represent a means of making meat-consumption safer (indeed, knowledge is always power: Mental Mojo’s active ingredients were discovered as a means of counteracting neurodegenerative disorders). That’s why Mojo’s Saturday night BBQ will proceed as scheduled, and yours should too.