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Preventing Chemical Accidents:  Understanding MSDS’s & Assessing Chemical Hazards

Factsheet #8

Do Animal Studies Tell the Truth?

For many years, researchers have relied on animal testing in order to identify substances as potential human carcinogens.  The tests provide accurate information about doses and duration of exposure and interactions of substances with other chemicals.

In these studies, the chemical, substance, or mixture is administered to one or two laboratory rats over a range of doses and duration of exposure.  All experimental conditions are carefully chosen to maximize the likelihood of identifying any cancer effects.

It is not possible to predict with absolute certainty from animal studies along which agents, substances, mixtures, or exposure levels cause cancer.  However, we are certain that all known human cancer-causing agents also produce cancers in laboratory animals.  We also know that in many cases, agents found to cause cancer in animals were later confirmed to cause cancer in humans.

The bottom line is that studies of laboratory animals are a reliable source for detecting potential human health hazards of all kinds, including cancer.

Source:  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Services National Toxicology Program (NTP), 11th Report on Carcinogens, 2005.

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