Why The Nickname “Human Lab Rat Study?”

The formal name of this study, as approved by the UCSF Medical School Committee on Human Research is:

“Clinical blood profile assays as biomarkers to assess potential health effects resulting from the controlled elimination of suspected dietary and environmental chemical toxins.”

That’s a mouthful, more than a little awkward when mentioning in conversation and does NOT bear repeating every time it’s referred to on this site.

Among ourselves, we refer to “the study” or “our study” because we know what we’re referencing. But that’s pretty vague for others.

So, we need a shorthand expression.

Human Lab Rat?

“Human lab rat” comes to mind because this is the first controlled study of environmental chemicals in humans.

All the other studies have been conducted using genuine rodent lab rats because it is considered unethical to deliberately expose humans to potentially harmful substances. This is the case even for those chemicals (like BPA) that are ubiquitous in the environment and have been deemedĀ  safe by federal regulators.

We get to use humans as our lab rats because our study calls for the controlled and staged reduction of chemicals which the CDC says most of us (at least 93%) already have in our bodies and to which, most of the population is continually exposed. (See 15.1 in our study protocol).

So, in one sense, most Americans are already unknowing lab rats when it comes to environmental chemicals.

This study is also an experiment on humans because we are developing ways to conduct things to make compliance easy and to measure things in ways not done before. That makes this a “proof of concept” study.

So, because humans have now edged out white rats as experimental subjects in our study, this has become — in the vernacular — The Human Lab Rat study.