Sunday, January 27, 2008

Does nutrition study always involve human subject?

Not always, animal studies can alert researchers to potential problems, but working with animals alone cannot give you conclusive proof. Different species react differently to various chemicals and diseases. For example, although cows and horses can digest grass and hay, human being can’t. And while outright poisons such as cyanide clearly traumatize any living body, many foods or drugs that harm a laboratory rat won’t harm you. And vice versa. For example, mouse and rat embryos suffer no ill effects when their mothers are given thalidomide, the sedative that’s known to cause deformed fetal limbs when given to pregnant monkeys — and human beings — at the point in pregnancy when limbs are developing. (And here’s an astounding turn:

Modern research shows that thalidomide is beneficial for treating or preventing human skin problems related to Hansen’s disease [leprosy], cancer, and/or autoimmune conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, in which the body mistakenly attacks its own tissues.)

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