Sep 11, 2007

Animal Chip Implants Linked to Cancer


Even though this is only a preliminary study not definitive, I find this both concerning and disappointing. Concerning because cancer has been such an oppressive enemy for so long, disappointing in that yet again a government official is playing both sides. To top it off, I have heard many cities in the US are now making micro-chipping MANDATORY for pets. And previous to that, many people just jumped on board because of how useful it would be if their animal companions got lost or stolen.

I wonder (and worry) if eventually they will not find a similar problem in the melatonin chips that are wildly popular with ferret folk?

This weekend the Associated Press broke a story suggesting a link between VeriChip's implantable chip technology in animals and the formation of cancerous tumors. The story has been picked up widely, from the mainstream media to tech blogs to pet publications. Following is what the RFID industry needs to know.

From 1996 to 2006, a handful of studies reported incidences of tumors in lab mice and rats that had been implanted with chips. Specifically, malignant tumors (sarcomas) developed near and around the chips, in some cases completely enveloping them. A 1998 study in the US found the incidence of cancer to be higher than 10 percent in a group of 177 tested mice. A 1997 German study revealed a cancer incidence of one percent in a group of over four thousand, with the researchers noting that the tumors "are clearly due to the implanted microchips." And just last year a study in France saw 4.1 percent of 1,260 chipped mice develop cancer.

The significance of these findings is not just the potential danger to chipped pets, but the fact that the technology in question is essentially the same as that used in the VeriChip product for humans.

Note, however, that the findings are preliminary and do not definitively condemn the technology as a cause of cancer in animals or in humans. One study said as much, cautioning, "Blind leaps from the detection of tumors to the prediction of human health risk should be avoided." Ohio State University veterinarian oncologist Dr. Cheryl London commented, "It's much easier to cause cancer in mice than it is in people. So it may be that what you're seeing in mice represents an exaggerated phenomenon of what may occur in people." Perhaps most significant of all is the fact that millions of pets have been chipped over the last fifteen years, and no widespread problem has surfaced. (Although after the attention this story will bring, new cases might well be uncovered.)

Still, the studies warrant further investigation, according to a number of cancer researchers whom the AP asked to review and interpret the research. Dr. Robert Benezra, head of the Cancer Biology Genetics Program at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, told the AP, "There's no way in the world, having read this information, that I would have one of those chips implanted in my skin, or in one of my family members." Others were less dramatic. National Cancer Institute veterinary oncologist Dr. Chand Khanna acknowledged that the studies "suggest some reason to be concerned about tumor formations" and advocated further investigation. Forensic pathologist Dr. Oded Foreman of the Jackson Laboratory in Maine said that there "might be a little hint that something real is happening here."

One curious wrinkle to the story is how the studies have gone relatively unnoticed, even by VeriChip itself...

Read The Full Story Here

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