Lab tests -- currently beginning shortly after birth and ending after two years -- sometimes underestimate human risks, researchers reported in a paper published in Environmental Health Perspectives.
Longer, more sensitive tests on lab rodents -- beginning in utero and lasting sometimes as long as three years -- would provide a more reliable picture of the risk that various chemicals pose to humans throughout their lifespan, the Center for Science in the Public Interests researchers said Monday in a news release issued from Washington.
"We must test animals to determine whether a substance causes cancer," said Michael Jacobson, the center's executive director and paper's co-author. "Given the prevalence of so many chemicals in our cupboards, our workplaces and in the environment at large, government regulatory agencies must change the way they do business and require companies to conduct animal tests from before birth to near the end of their natural lifetimes."
All known human carcinogens also cause cancer in animals, researchers said, and about one-third of the known human carcinogens were uncovered in animal testing. Researchers said lengthier studies later found some chemicals carcinogenic that typical rodent studies indicated weren't.