Living in Cages Linked to Cancer in Laboratory Rats

by Brett K. Carver

AP -- The federal government today released the findings of a four year
study that linked living in cages to increased potential of developing
cancer in laboratory rats.

The study, which cost an estimated $17 Million, was started in 1983 when
all the rats in a laboratory test control group contracted cancer.

Spokesperson John Smith explained:  "We were running a test on the
possible link between excess popcorn intake and increased incidence of
colon cancer.  The test group consisted of twenty rats who were force
fed three quarts (roughly one and a half times their body weight) of
popcorn daily, a perfectly reasonable amount.  The control group
consisted of twenty rats who lived in cages carefully shielded from all
known carcinogens.  To our surprise, all twenty control rats developed
cancer within six months."

Mr.  Smith went on to say:  "We had always had some trouble with control
rats contracting cancer.  But as long as more of the rats in the test
group than the control group got cancer, we were able to feel pretty
good about condemning whatever we were testing at the time."

Mr. Smith was then questioned about the possibility of test results
being invalid if any of the control rats developed cancer.  He
responded:  "Yeah, we had a scientist at the lab ask that once.  We had
to let him go though when we found out he was a member of the Audubon
Society; you know, conflict of interest.  He was a real trouble maker,
always asking questions like:  'Wouldn't eating that much popcorn give
anyone cancer?'  We just didn't need that kind of a negative influence.
The last thing you want in a research lab is someone asking a lot of
fool questions."

When asked if these results would change any previous findings Mr.
Smith replied: "Why yes.  This could blow our whole gig.  I mean, if
it's been the cages all along, this could mean that things like
asbestos, smoking, even radiation are perfectly harmless!"

Mr. Smith continued: "This could change everything!  We may be forced to
recall all our previous findings at a cost of millions of dollars.  This
says nothing of the possible lawsuits from individuals who contracted
cancer while spending time in prison, or zoo workers forced to spend
extended periods inside the animal's cages."

When asked why the study cost seventeen million dollars, Mr. Smith
responded: "Oh, you know how it goes; a little here, a little there.
Besides, do you have any idea how expensive it is to provide food and
living conditions for rats that doesn't expose them to any of the things
we have determined to cause cancer?  In fact right now we're in the
middle of a two year study that may link breathing with lung cancer.
You think the cost is bad now, just wait till we are forced to prevent
the control rats from breathing so as not to invalidate the results by
having more of the control rats get cancer than test rats."

When asked if John Smith was his real name, the spokesperson replied:
"Huh, what?  You talking to me?"

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