It is not only in cancer research where animal data is preferred to epidemiology. There is direct epidemiological and clinical evidence to show that a proportion of the population reacts adversely to food additives such as colors, preservatives, antioxidants and flavor enhancers. Symptoms include hyperactivity, asthma and eczema. But failure to produce corresponding symptoms in animals has been cited as grounds for doubting the human data.32
In another case, reliance on animal experiments rather than epidemiology delayed a full realization that lack of food early in life can harm the brain.41 During the first quarter of the 20th century, there was considerable interest in the possibility that lack of food during childhood might interfere with the proper development of the brain and therefore affect the later achievement of the individual. Unfortunately, almost all the research was carried out on animals and showed that starving baby or adult rats had no effect on the brain. Not surprisingly, the topic was abandoned and was only resumed in the late 1950s when children with histories of undernutrition were persistently found to underachieve both in school and in formal tests.
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