Thirty Illnesses, Sorted According to Whether or Not You Can Eat the Victims

A piece of geeky brilliance, from McSweeneys, one of my favourite websites:

Illnesses Whose Victims May Not Be Safely Eaten

1. Rabies
2. Chickenpox
3. Leukemia
4. Tuberculosis
5. The common cold
6. Hodgkin’s disease
7. Hepatitis*
8. Leprosy
9. Crohn’s disease**
10. Mono (aka mononucleosis, the Epstein-Barr virus, the kissing disease)
11. AIDS
12. Influenza
13. Malaria***
14. Herpes (genital or oral)
15. SARS

Illnesses Whose Victims May Be Safely Eaten

1. Color blindness
2. Tourette’s syndrome
3. Alzheimer’s disease
4. Breast, thyroid, liver, and prostate cancers****
5. Asthma
6. HIV
7. Cholera*****
8. Chlamydia*****
9. Syphilis*****
10. Diphtheria*****
11. Muscular dystrophy
12. Tinnitus
13. Type 2 diabetes
14. Parkinson’s disease
15. Homesickness

(By Maryam Akbari and Sean Michaels)

Footnotes, see below.

– – – –

* It may be safe to consume a victim of hepatitis if you carefully avoid the liver.

** At one time, it was believed that Crohn’s disease was a genetic disorder and thus its victims were safe to devour. Recent studies, however, suggest that Crohn’s is an infectious environmental bacteria, linked to Johne’s disease, which infects ruminants. If this is correct, victims of Crohn’s may not be safely consumed.

*** It may be safe to consume a victim of malaria if the blood is drained and the liver is avoided.

**** Victims may not be consumed if cancer was induced by hepatitis virus.

***** Slight chance that these diseases would infect through the mouth/esophagus mucosa before they could be destroyed by the acidity of the stomach. Thus, their victims could not be said to be “safe.”

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David (@ng_dave) is Faculty at the Michael Smith Labs. His writing has appeared in places such as McSweeney's, The Walrus, and He plans on using Terry as another place to highlight the mostly science-y links he appreciates. In fact, if you liked this one, you might also like his main site generally - this can be found at

4 Responses to “Thirty Illnesses, Sorted According to Whether or Not You Can Eat the Victims”

  1. Devon Carr

    I blew almost an hour pouring through the archived lists on this site… Fantastic. Thanks David

  2. David Ng

    Yeah, McSweeney’s is easy to get sucked into – the “Lists” in particular. In any event, I hold that website dear, having been lucky enough to have a few pieces of my own go up there.

  3. David Ng

    It’s interesting but I put this up on my blog at, and basically a mini-peer review took place. Essentially, the list is not at all factually correct. Check out the comments at this link.

    It’s doubly interesting since my blogging partner happens to edit the “Lists” at McSweeney’s. Small world this…

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