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Most Outrageously Pointless


Stressed rats drink more than non-stressed rats

In an expensive study of the obvious, psychologists at the Graduate Center for the City University of New York designed an experiment to see what effect stress would have on rats who drink alcohol. Of course, rats don’t drink, so first they had to get them used to drinking by mixing alcohol in their water.
Though the researchers acknowledge that “alcoholics in treatment claim that life stressors are the leading cause of continued drinking or relapse,” they somehow justified spending taxpayer money to study whether stressed rats would drink more than non-stressed rats.

These great minds, who take the award for Most Outrageously Pointless, decided that complex life stressors in humans could be studied in rats by putting them into a restraint chamber. Rats were restrained one hour each day, for ten days in a clear cylindrical tube that prevented them from moving.

The results showed that the stressed rats “drank” more alcohol than the non-stressed group. The researchers also appeared to be unclear about the voluminous literature confirming the adverse effect of alcohol on human memory. So they put the groups of rats through memory tests and discovered that the drinking, stressed rats performed better! No wonder these scientists are confused; they’re relying on animal experiments to study human behavior.

They also claim that their findings couldn’t be clarified because they were unable to run blood alcohol levels on the rats. This was because they lost the blood samples when the freezer broke. But take heart, because the researchers assure us that “future studies will measure BAC [blood alcohol level] to determine if rats undergoing stress have an altered BAC.”

Sadly for the rats and for the public that funds these experiments, we know there will be future studies. Why stop, when you have a gravy train grant that has been going since 2000 and brought in $1.4 million to the university in 2012 alone?

This experiment was funded in part by a grant from the National Institute for General Medical Sciences claiming “…this program will educate and train the next generation of scientists who engage in research to benefit public health.” A lofty goal, , if there really was some public health benefit.

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.

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Gomez, Juan L., Michael J. Lewis, and Victoria N. Luine. “The interaction of chronic restraint stress and voluntary alcohol intake: effects on spatial memory in male rats.” Alcohol. 2012 Aug;46(5):499-504.