I just had my husband read up a most interesting story from the most recent Economist (May 3rd, 2014)–a most unlikely source for a scientific article–that came down on me like a rock! And it will on you as well. The title of the article does not tell you what it is about and it sounds silly too–not sure why they gave this title… but cute nonetheless albeit says nothing of the topic. The title is: Sex, writhes and videotape.
So why is this article interesting? It is not about sex and not about video taping animals having sex. Rather it discovered something critical for us to know about. The original research was published in Nature Methods by Jeffrey Mogil of McGill University in Montreal and his colleagues. So why is this article important to us you say?
This article is about how our research on animals has mislead us for years! And we did not know until now. This basically means we need to redo every single research. Why? As it turns out, lab rats fear male experimenters and kick into a “fight-or-flight” mode, initiating diarrhea and other things, one if which is key: less sensitivity to pain!
If the researchers are women, the rats do not have the same fear, have no panic attacks, do not run for their lives, and their pain sensors remain what it normally would be.
This all sounds great but what is its importance? If you are taking a medication for a headache and the dose of that medicine was established for you based on the research of a male researchers, there is a good chance you will be overdosed! In fact, in recent studies, a couple of sleeping aid pharmaceuticals have already had to make adjustment to dosages since the dose for men represented a 45% overdose for women. But these doses may have still been established by male researchers that would mean that even the men are overdosed and women still also are. We just don’t know.
Based on this discovery of lab rat fear, it is questionable if we really have any medicine in the market today that is safe in dose! Think about its implications! And this is all because lab rats are more scared from men than women. It is both ridiculous and scary! It also teaches us a great lesson: rats can tell who is male and female.. in fact they can tell so from a T-Shirt put close to their cages… There is something about male researchers that intimidates lab rats!
Next time you buy your bottle of pain reliever, look to see if the researcher was male or female…
Any questions and suggestions are welcome!