Nicotine damages lungs of baby mice
The Most Outrageously Inexcusable category goes to a team of researchers at seven institutions who exposed pregnant and newborn mice to nicotine so they could study the effects on their lungs. Mice were surgically implanted with “mini-pumps” to expose them to nicotine. Some were forced to drink it when it was added to their water source.
After the exposure period, baby mice were anesthetized and tracheotomized to analyze their lungs. Then they were killed. The results showed that the newborn mice had impaired lung function.
The researchers claim that even though the link between maternal smoking and impaired lung function in children is “incontrovertible,” this experiment demonstrates more precisely how that happens. Researchers claim that although we know that cigarette smoking causes lung damage in offspring, the exact mechanisms are “poorly understood.”
This is another way of saying that we can keep studying this same issue ad nauseum because we can never know everything there is to know.
But here is what we do know. Animal “models” of tobacco and nicotine exposure have not helped to understand smoking in people. Animal studies have provided conflicting results when applied to humans, even failing to consistently replicate what we already know from human studies, such as the link between low birth weight and smoking during pregnancy.
We know that smoking is harmful to everyone, and that it damages the unborn child. We know that human use of tobacco is a complex condition, affected by a range of factors including peer pressure, socio-economic status, level of education, drug and alcohol use, and the presence of other behavioral problems such as anxiety or depression. At the end of the day, animal experiments have not helped to address the problem of smoking.
That’s why we think it’s Outrageously Inexcusable that taxpayers funded a grant for this experiment on mice to the tune of $2.4 million from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute
Imagine how many people could be helped if the millions of dollars that fund cruel nicotine experiments on animals would instead be used to provide support for people who smoke, with programs that are proven to be effective.
What You Can Do
Please help IDA in speaking out about the millions of dollars that fund this sort of outrageously wasteful and terribly cruel research on animals. It’s time to put a stop to it. The US economy is in crisis, making this even more urgent to address.
Click here to contact your US Senators and Congressperson. Ask for much stricter oversight for granting money to animal research. Insist that all NIH-funded experiments comply with its stated mission “to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce the burdens of illness and disability.”
You can also call your elected officials. Find their phone numbers, or call the US Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121.
Wongtrakool C, Wang N, Hyde DM, Roman J, Spindel ER. “Prenatal nicotine exposure alters lung function and airway geometry through alpha7 nicotinic receptors.” Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 2012 May;46(5):695-702.