Thinking Inside the Box (Where the Mice Suffer & Die)

David Cassuto

Thirty-some years ago, researchers attempting to determine if tobacco smoke was toxic put mice in boxes filled with smoke.  The mice didn’t develop cancer at the rate human smokers did.  One could conclude that tobacco was not a carcinogen but, of course, that  would be wrong.  The problem lay with the experiment, including the fact that mouse and human physiology are vastly different.

Fast forward to the present where researchers are attempting to determine if cell phone use causes cancer in humans.  Building on the knowledge gained over the last three decades of rigorous scientific method, researchers have elected to study the question by — wait for it; wait for it — putting mice in boxes.  Is it because they will learn anything of value regarding cancer, cell phones and humans?  Not hardly.  They will, however, get $25 million in funding from the NIH.   

“There really are no alternatives to animal studies,” says John R. Bucher, associate director of the National Toxicology Program at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.  As coincidence would have it, Mr. Bucher’s division is  in charge of the study.   Henry C. Lai, a professor of bioengineering at the University of Washington, disagrees.  He has already found compelling evidence that the electromagnetic radiation from cellphones damages human and animal cells on the molecular level.  Professor Lai wonders why it makes sense to experiment on animals  that live only a few years in order to to predict cancers that may take decades to develop in people.  “Ten years, 30 years, for brain cancer, is not unusual,” he says.

Clearly, Professor Lai is unhinged.  It must make sense or we wouldn’t continue to throw government money at people who do it.  Right?  Right?  of course it is.

h/t: Chron of Higher Ed (pay site)

Update: If you’re interested in the cell phone cancer nexus, check out Devra Davis‘ new book: Disconnect.  It will chill your blains.  Read more about it here.

2 Responses

  1. ““There really are no alternatives to animal studies,” says John R. Bucher, associate director of the National Toxicology Program at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. As coincidence would have it, Mr. Bucher’s division is in charge of the study.”

    In some cases, a coin toss is an alternative. For example, an analysis of animal models’ accuracy in predicting the likelhood of substances to cause birth defects in humans shows that they’re no better than a coin toss. A coin toss would be cheaper, quicker, and far less cruel. But wouldn’t attract much funding.

    Of course, Mr. Bucher’s remark is ludicrous. Animal models couldn’t even show that the worlds’ best known carcinogen – based on a mountain of clinical and epidemiological evidence – is cancerous.

    Animal models impeded our understanding of diabetes, polio, heart valves, hormone replacement therapy, AIDS, heart disease, and many other conditions and treatments, because each species reacts to pathogens, chemicals, and environmental stimuli differently – a result of millions of years of evolution. Interspecies diferences at the genetic and biochemical levels, where we study disease and treatments in this century, are complex and non-linear.

    Furthermore, as the post points out, in animal models, diseases are typically contrived and artificially applied to the animals, and do not reflect reality. Perhaps that’s why the former head of the Natiional Cancer Institute lamented that the history of the “War on Cancer” is cures that work in mice but not humans.

    Then there are the horrific and inane psychological animal experiments. For decades, animal “researchers” – I use the term charitably – have stolen baby kittens from their mothers, and caused prolonged agony to both, to “prove” what we already know – that babies need their mothers. Suggested alternatives to this cruel madness would be common sense and common decency.

    Nonhumans feel pain and fear perhaps even more intensely than humans do, and from all observations, they value their lives as much as we value ours. We have no right to conscript non-consenting living individuals as disposable objects in expensive psuedoscience projects.

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Pace Law Library and Animal Blawg, Bea Elliott. Bea Elliott said: Thinking Inside the Box (Where the Mice Suffer & Die): […]

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