Drinking animal or human blood can have severe health risks, including the risk of contracting a bloodborne illnesses. Medical professionals do not recommend this practice.
Drinking blood (animal or human) is haute cuisine in vampire fiction. But in real life, it has no known health benefits and can have severe health risks.
Some groups and subcultures gravitate toward practices like these, such as Sanguinarians or the vampire lifestyle. But within these communities, organizations warn about the risks of drinking actual blood and advise people to take significant safety precautions.
Let’s learn more about the potential consequences of drinking blood.
Warning: The consensus in the medical community is that drinking raw blood is associated with health risks and can have serious, life threatening outcomes. This is not a recommended practice.
Drinking raw blood is not a safe practice.
Carnivorous animals eat raw meat and blood, so why can’t humans? Animals in the wild have anatomy that developed over time to counter the bacteria and foodborne pathogens that can otherwise cause harm. Humans, who found their meat tasted better cooked, didn’t develop as many digestive protections.
Drinking animal blood may be generally safe in very small quantities. Chowing down on a medium-rare steak or a blood sausage link usually won’t have any ill effects, though food poisoning can still be a concern.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends cooking ground beef, veal, pork, or lamb to an internal temperature of 160°F and steaks, roasts, or chops to an internal temperature of 145°F.
Ingesting raw blood in any significant quantity could be dangerous, especially if the blood wasn’t collected hygienically. Blood is prone to bacterial growth, so ingesting more than a small amount could increase your risk of infection and other illnesses.
Drinking blood could increase the risk of particular medical conditions.
Most people don’t have access to the testing resources required to ensure that the blood does not contain contaminants.
For the best chance at avoiding foodborne or bloodborne illness, thoroughly cook anything you eat using safe food handling, cooking, and cleaning practices. Some basic tips include:
- washing your hands before and after cooking
- preventing cross-contamination, or when raw foods come in contact with other foods or cooking surfaces, by disinfecting surfaces and tools
- freeze or refrigerate foods that require it immediately upon getting them back from the store
- cooking meat to a safe internal temperature
- safely storing leftovers
All of these safety standards apply to anything you consume, including blood. So if you’re thinking about consuming any raw blood, it’s recommended to reconsider due to these health risks and the inability to ensure safe consumption.
Primary hemochromatosis is caused by hereditary factors, while secondary hemochromatosis is caused by eating a diet
- endocrine system
Eating a balanced diet of nutrient-rich foods will not typically cause this condition. But consuming large amounts of iron-rich blood could be a risk, especially if you have the
- fatigue or weakness
- unintended weight loss
- joint pain
- darker than usual, bronze, or gray skin color
- abdominal pain
- lowered libido
The short answer is no.
While a blood transfusion may be used as a treatment for people who have lost blood or have difficulty making healthy blood, a blood transfusion is very different from drinking blood.
But while you may have seen unsubstantiated rumors on the internet, there is currently no evidence that drinking blood has any health benefits.
You can be criminally punished for ingesting human or animal blood, depending on where you live.
Louisiana, for example, has a law on the books that prohibits “ritualistic acts.” The state defines these as any practice with the intention of ingesting human or animal blood or human or animal waste.
Someone found in violation of the law could be imprisoned for up to 5 years or fined up to $5,000 — or both. Other states may have similar laws.
The U.S. Supreme Court has held that animal sacrifices for religious purposes — which may include drinking blood — are constitutional under the First Amendment’s religious liberty clause. But that doesn’t mean people who practice ritualistic animal sacrifice are safe from state animal cruelty laws.
Drinking human or animal blood can pose health risks such as severe diseases and foodborne illnesses. While consuming very small amounts of animal blood, such as in rare or medium-rare steak, is not likely to cause harm, there is still a concern for foodborne illness. Safe food handling and cooking are recommended.
Always consult a medical professional for advice on consuming anything with these risks.