International Association Against Painful Experiments on Animals

History of Animal Experiments

14: Cancer Research Experiments on Animals

Over the years doctors have asked why so much attention is devoted to the use of the animals in cancer research. In 1980 an editorial in the medical journal Clinical Oncology stated that it is hard to find a single, common human cancer where management and expectation of cure has been markedly affected by the results of laboratory research. Although not opposed to animal research in principle, the editorial warned that most human cancers are different from the artificially induced disease in animals and wondered why so little attention is paid to the human condition. The editorial concluded that it is the study of human patients which will eventually produce relevant answers.(38)

The belief that clinical findings must be reproduced in the laboratory before finally being accepted can hold back progress and has often proved a wasteful detour. It was clinical observation which showed that diabetes is often caused by a damaged pancreas39 but the idea was not accepted for many years partly because physiologists found it difficult to reproduce the effects in laboratory animals.(40) The link between smoking and lung cancer was first discovered through human population studies although attempts to duplicate the effects in laboratory animals by forcing them to inhale the smoke have generally failed.(41)


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