Skip to comments.Chip Implants Linked To Animal Tumors
Posted on 09/08/2007 12:43:37 PM PDT by John W
When the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved implanting microchips in humans, the manufacturer said it would save lives, letting doctors scan the tiny transponders to access patients' medical records almost instantly. The FDA found "reasonable assurance" the device was safe, and a sub-agency even called it one of 2005's top "innovative technologies."
But neither the company nor the regulators publicly mentioned this: A series of veterinary and toxicology studies, dating to the mid-1990s, stated that chip implants had "induced" malignant tumors in some lab mice and rats.
"The transponders were the cause of the tumors," said Keith Johnson, a retired toxicologic pathologist, explaining in a phone interview the findings of a 1996 study he led at the Dow Chemical Co. in Midland, Mich.
Leading cancer specialists reviewed the research for The Associated Press and, while cautioning that animal test results do not necessarily apply to humans, said the findings troubled them. Some said they would not allow family members to receive implants, and all urged further research before the glass-encased transponders are widely implanted in people.
To date, about 2,000 of the so-called radio frequency identification, or RFID, devices have been implanted in humans worldwide, according to VeriChip Corp. The company, which sees a target market of 45 million Americans for its medical monitoring chips, insists the devices are safe, as does its parent company, Applied Digital Solutions, of Delray Beach, Fla.
"We stand by our implantable products which have been approved by the FDA and/or other U.S. regulatory authorities," Scott Silverman, VeriChip Corp. chairman and chief executive officer, said in a written response to AP questions.
The company was "not aware of any studies that have resulted in malignant tumors in laboratory rats, mice and certainly not dogs or cats," but he added that millions of domestic pets have been implanted with microchips, without reports of significant problems.
"In fact, for more than 15 years we have used our encapsulated glass transponders with FDA approved anti-migration caps and received no complaints regarding malignant tumors caused by our product."
The FDA also stands by its approval of the technology.
Did the agency know of the tumor findings before approving the chip implants? The FDA declined repeated AP requests to specify what studies it reviewed.
The FDA is overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services, which, at the time of VeriChip's approval, was headed by Tommy Thompson. Two weeks after the device's approval took effect on Jan. 10, 2005, Thompson left his Cabinet post, and within five months was a board member of VeriChip Corp. and Applied Digital Solutions. He was compensated in cash and stock options.
Thompson, until recently a candidate for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, says he had no personal relationship with the company as the VeriChip was being evaluated, nor did he play any role in FDA's approval process of the RFID tag.
"I didn't even know VeriChip before I stepped down from the Department of Health and Human Services," he said in a telephone interview.
Also making no mention of the findings on animal tumors was a June report by the ethics committee of the American Medical Association, which touted the benefits of implantable RFID devices.
Had committee members reviewed the literature on cancer in chipped animals?
No, said Dr. Steven Stack, an AMA board member with knowledge of the committee's review.
Was the AMA aware of the studies?
No, he said.
Published in veterinary and toxicology journals between 1996 and 2006, the studies found that lab mice and rats injected with microchips sometimes developed subcutaneous "sarcomas" malignant tumors, most of them encasing the implants.
A 1998 study in Ridgefield, Conn., of 177 mice reported cancer incidence to be slightly higher than 10 percent a result the researchers described as "surprising."
A 2006 study in France detected tumors in 4.1 percent of 1,260 microchipped mice. This was one of six studies in which the scientists did not set out to find microchip-induced cancer but noticed the growths incidentally. They were testing compounds on behalf of chemical and pharmaceutical companies; but they ruled out the compounds as the tumors' cause. Because researchers only noted the most obvious tumors, the French study said, "These incidences may therefore slightly underestimate the true occurrence" of cancer.
In 1997, a study in Germany found cancers in 1 percent of 4,279 chipped mice. The tumors "are clearly due to the implanted microchips," the authors wrote.
Caveats accompanied the findings. "Blind leaps from the detection of tumors to the prediction of human health risk should be avoided," one study cautioned. Also, because none of the studies had a control group of animals that did not get chips, the normal rate of tumors cannot be determined and compared to the rate with chips implanted.
Still, after reviewing the research, specialists at some pre-eminent cancer institutions said the findings raised red flags.
"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," said Dr. Robert Benezra, head of the Cancer Biology Genetics Program at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.
Before microchips are implanted on a large scale in humans, he said, testing should be done on larger animals, such as dogs or monkeys. "I mean, these are bad diseases. They are life-threatening. And given the preliminary animal data, it looks to me that there's definitely cause for concern."
Dr. George Demetri, director of the Center for Sarcoma and Bone Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, agreed. Even though the tumor incidences were "reasonably small," in his view, the research underscored "certainly real risks" in RFID implants.
In humans, sarcomas, which strike connective tissues, can range from the highly curable to "tumors that are incredibly aggressive and can kill people in three to six months," he said.
At the Jackson Laboratory in Maine, a leader in mouse genetics research and the initiation of cancer, Dr. Oded Foreman, a forensic pathologist, also reviewed the studies at the AP's request.
At first he was skeptical, suggesting that chemicals administered in some of the studies could have caused the cancers and skewed the results. But he took a different view after seeing that control mice, which received no chemicals, also developed the cancers. "That might be a little hint that something real is happening here," he said. He, too, recommended further study, using mice, dogs or non-human primates.
Dr. Cheryl London, a veterinarian oncologist at Ohio State University, noted: "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."
Tens of thousands of dogs have been chipped, she said, and veterinary pathologists haven't reported outbreaks of related sarcomas in the area of the neck, where canine implants are often done. (Published reports detailing malignant tumors in two chipped dogs turned up in AP's four-month examination of research on chips and health. In one dog, the researchers said cancer appeared linked to the presence of the embedded chip; in the other, the cancer's cause was uncertain.)
Nonetheless, London saw a need for a 20-year study of chipped canines "to see if you have a biological effect." Dr. Chand Khanna, a veterinary oncologist at the National Cancer Institute, also backed such a study, saying current evidence "does suggest some reason to be concerned about tumor formations."
Meanwhile, the animal study findings should be disclosed to anyone considering a chip implant, the cancer specialists agreed.
To date, however, that hasn't happened.
The product that VeriChip Corp. won approval for use in humans is an electronic capsule the size of two grains of rice. Generally, it is implanted with a syringe into an anesthetized portion of the upper arm.
When prompted by an electromagnetic scanner, the chip transmits a unique code. With the code, hospital staff can go on the Internet and access a patient's medical profile that is maintained in a database by VeriChip Corp. for an annual fee.
VeriChip Corp., whose parent company has been marketing radio tags for animals for more than a decade, sees an initial market of diabetics and people with heart conditions or Alzheimer's disease, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.
The company is spending millions to assemble a national network of hospitals equipped to scan chipped patients.
But in its SEC filings, product labels and press releases, VeriChip Corp. has not mentioned the existence of research linking embedded transponders to tumors in test animals.
When the FDA approved the device, it noted some Verichip risks: The capsules could migrate around the body, making them difficult to extract; they might interfere with defibrillators, or be incompatible with MRI scans, causing burns. While also warning that the chips could cause "adverse tissue reaction," FDA made no reference to malignant growths in animal studies.
Did the agency review literature on microchip implants and animal cancer?
Dr. Katherine Albrecht, a privacy advocate and RFID expert, asked shortly after VeriChip's approval what evidence the agency had reviewed. When FDA declined to provide information, she filed a Freedom of Information Act request. More than a year later, she received a letter stating there were no documents matching her request.
"The public relies on the FDA to evaluate all the data and make sure the devices it approves are safe," she says, "but if they're not doing that, who's covering our backs?"
Late last year, Albrecht unearthed at the Harvard medical library three studies noting cancerous tumors in some chipped mice and rats, plus a reference in another study to a chipped dog with a tumor. She forwarded them to the AP, which subsequently found three additional mice studies with similar findings, plus another report of a chipped dog with a tumor.
Asked if it had taken these studies into account, the FDA said VeriChip documents were being kept confidential to protect trade secrets. After AP filed a FOIA request, the FDA made available for a phone interview Anthony Watson, who was in charge of the VeriChip approval process.
"At the time we reviewed this, I don't remember seeing anything like that," he said of animal studies linking microchips to cancer. A literature search "didn't turn up anything that would be of concern."
In general, Watson said, companies are expected to provide safety-and-effectiveness data during the approval process, "even if it's adverse information."
Watson added: "The few articles from the literature that did discuss adverse tissue reactions similar to those in the articles you provided, describe the responses as foreign body reactions that are typical of other implantable devices. The balance of the data provided in the submission supported approval of the device."
Another implantable device could be a pacemaker, and indeed, tumors have in some cases attached to foreign bodies inside humans. But Dr. Neil Lipman, director of the Research Animal Resource Center at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, said it's not the same. The microchip isn't like a pacemaker that's vital to keeping someone alive, he added, "so at this stage, the payoff doesn't justify the risks."
Silverman, VeriChip Corp.'s chief executive, disagreed. "Each month pet microchips reunite over 8,000 dogs and cats with their owners," he said. "We believe the VeriMed Patient Identification System will provide similar positive benefits for at-risk patients who are unable to communicate for themselves in an emergency."
And what of former HHS secretary Thompson?
When asked what role, if any, he played in VeriChip's approval, Thompson replied: "I had nothing to do with it. And if you look back at my record, you will find that there has never been any improprieties whatsoever."
FDA's Watson said: "I have no recollection of him being involved in it at all." VeriChip Corp. declined comment.
Thompson vigorously campaigned for electronic medical records and healthcare technology both as governor of Wisconsin and at HHS. While in President Bush's Cabinet, he formed a "medical innovation" task force that worked to partner FDA with companies developing medical information technologies.
At a "Medical Innovation Summit" on Oct. 20, 2004, Lester Crawford, the FDA's acting commissioner, thanked the secretary for getting the agency "deeply involved in the use of new information technology to help prevent medication error." One notable example he cited: "the implantable chips and scanners of the VeriChip system our agency approved last week."
After leaving the Cabinet and joining the company board, Thompson received options on 166,667 shares of VeriChip Corp. stock, and options on an additional 100,000 shares of stock from its parent company, Applied Digital Solutions, according to SEC records. He also received $40,000 in cash in 2005 and again in 2006, the filings show.
The Project on Government Oversight called Thompson's actions "unacceptable" even though they did not violate what the independent watchdog group calls weak conflict-of-interest laws.
"A decade ago, people would be embarrassed to cash in on their government connections. But now it's like the Wild West," said the group's executive director, Danielle Brian.
Thompson is a partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, a Washington law firm that was paid $1.2 million for legal services it provided the chip maker in 2005 and 2006, according to SEC filings.
He stepped down as a VeriChip Corp. director in March to seek the GOP presidential nomination, and records show that the company gave his campaign $7,400 before he bowed out of the race in August.
In a TV interview while still on the board, Thompson was explaining the benefits and the ease of being chipped when an interviewer interrupted:
"I'm sorry, sir. Did you just say you would get one implanted in your arm?"
"Absolutely," Thompson replied. "Without a doubt."
"No concerns at all?"
But to date, Thompson has yet to be chipped himself.
On the Web:
First circumcising and now this.
1984, knocking at your door.
Will you let it in, will you let it run your life?
Everything causes cancer in laboratory rats.
Thats why few pay it any mind.
Didn’t cellphones also?
We wouldn’t even put one in our dog.
I prefer implanting the big chips at the top of the bag. Sometimes I’ll mix the microchips with what’s left of the dip, but all that salt will kill you eventually. Excuse me while I go get another beer.
Cats can also get tumors from vaccinations. Typically, all the vaccinations are given between the shoulder blades. Some vets, however, inject the cat’s legs. My vet said he uses a different injection site on the legs for each type of vaccine, so that he can keep track of which vaccine causes tumors, in case they occur.
I had my cats microchipped recently, and the chips are implanted between the shoulder blades.
This is in some ways good news. Maybe people would give up the idea of chipping kids or seniors. I do not think the benefits outweigh the risks, both to apparently one’s health AND the freedom of society.
By the way, I have found a great way to use technology in a small, helpful way to locate a lost child in a crowd. There are those little bracelets made out of tough (plasticized?) paper that you can buy in quantity for a few dollars. Write your cell phone number on them (i.e. MOM’S CELL and then the number) and put one on your child’s wrist when you go anywhere there could be a chance he’d get lost for a minute. If he’s old enough, tell him that if he’s lost, point to his wrist so they can call Mommy. Google “disposable ID bracelets” to find where they are sold.
DOC Digital Angel
This news is devastating
The only way this would make sense is if the average life expencancty of a dog a lot longer than twenty years. I’m fairly certain that’s not the case.
I'm eating some tortilla chip crumbs mixed with chile con queso dip right now, yum!
Don't argue, just accept the facts of the seer's of our well being.
; - )
That’s an excellent idea.
if you pour 7oz of salt in a 6oz rat, it gets sick, so people should cut down on salt
besides that, the FDA has been bought off since I can remember
Thanks for posting.
“The FDA is overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services, which, at the time of VeriChip’s approval, was headed by Tommy Thompson. Two weeks after the device’s approval took effect on Jan. 10, 2005, Thompson left his Cabinet post, and within five months was a board member of VeriChip Corp. and Applied Digital Solutions. He was compensated in cash and stock options.
Thompson, until recently a candidate for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, says he had no personal relationship with the company as the VeriChip was being evaluated, nor did he play any role in FDA’s approval process of the RFID tag.
“I didn’t even know VeriChip before I stepped down from the Department of Health and Human Services,” he said in a telephone interview.”
Both of our last two dogs died early of cancer. Both had the chip.
Similarly, I'm sure, no one will recall the world-famous, award-winning toxicologist from the University of California at Berkeley who has researched carcinogens for decades, Bruce Ames, who clearly makes a distinction between the sensitivity levels of rats and mice and higher order mammals.
This is not entirely new ground by any means.
The FDA is overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services, which, at the time of VeriChips approval, was headed by Tommy Thompson. Two weeks after the devices approval took effect on Jan. 10, 2005, Thompson left his Cabinet post, and within five months was a board member of VeriChip Corp. and Applied Digital Solutions. He was compensated in cash and stock options.
Thompson, until recently a candidate for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, says he had no personal relationship with the company as the VeriChip was being evaluated, nor did he play any role in FDAs approval process of the RFID tag.
I didnt even know VeriChip before I stepped down from the Department of Health and Human Services, he said in a telephone interview.
....... does that come with a bridge?
Sounds conclusive to me!
Were they related?
Anything can cause cancer....even water.
Lest we forget age as a cause if one is blessed with becoming aged.
Were they related?
Furthermore, none of our mice died and none of them were chipped.
Hey, it’s data. Got something against data?
Your point being?
But it was just a question. Why do you believe a question necessarily has a point?
A friend of ours works at Ft Detrick and his job involves lab animals, exclusively.
As a pet rat owner, he has clarified many of the inherent health problems of my rats for me.
*Most* laboratory animals are ‘designed’ to be more [or, in some cases, less] genetically susceptible to whatever disease they are being used to research.
[think of it as a means of “time compression” to facilitate fast turnaround times to obtain desired research results]
There are many carefully bred and controlled “strains” of lab rats and mice, each with a different research purpose and biological/genetic disposition.
Most of these strains of lab animals are actually -patented- because of the predictability of their susceptibility to “[fill in the blank] disease”.
-Every- white [or dilute colored or predominantly white with spots] rat I’ve ever owned was obese, despite careful dietary management.
They are “programmed” to be obese because they are used primarily for obesity and cardiac studies.
The dark rats [ones that looked more like “real rats] had no obesity and much longer life spans.
Others are programmed for cancers, sometimes very specifically.
Test “results” based on these artificially created rodents do not really relate to the reality of human [or dog] disease ratios.
Microchips have been used in dogs for a very long time now and barring the previous problem with migration [a problem now “fixed”], there have been no untoward tendencies or spikes in correlated cancer rates for microchipped dogs.
There are, however, due to careless breeding programs, now many breeds with heavy tendencies to develop devastating cancers, Rottweilers and bone cancer, being just one case that comes to mind.
This “microchip mouse tumor revelation” first appeared in my email inbox back on October 2 of 2006.
It’s old news being recycled into a new panic meme.
[who’s patiently waiting for the “mark of the beast” folks to arrive]
Slave Tag (SLAG) Ping.
I did dream of having an internet device in my brain so I can go online. In the dream my brain had been preserved and I was only able to communicate online.
Thompson = Mr. Chips
Furthermore, none of our mice died and none of them were chipped.
You’ve got immortal mice?
I used to work at Oak Ridge National Laboratories where we had thousands of these genetically engineered rats and mice. I have seen what you are describing...ironic that many of the control mice and rats developed cancer without anything being done to them...remember the control group gets killed off too....
Pretty much says it all doesn't it. This is a huge scam.
They were simply created to expire from the above-mentioned diseases and there was not a thing in the world I could do to prevent it.
[planned biological obsolescence with the unintended consequence of heartbreak for those of us who loved the doomed little fuzzy time bombs].....:-[
Precisely. Scary, isn’t it?
And the Bible says they will have guillotines set up and anyone refusing the mark on their forehead or their hand will be beheaded.
But those who do accept it will be denying God.
guillotines were mentioned in the Bible? Care to point out where that might be found?
In no way do I support chipping people. But these days, it seems anyone can make correlations between anything and cancer. So I'm going to be a bit skeptical with the pet findings.
I'm sorry you lost both of your dogs. :(
No, but swords are.
References to apocalyptic “guillotines” are usually found on the tin-foil sites which also refer to “government/FEMA cattle cars”, thousands of which have been “discovered” attached to trains, all of which are bound for secret, government-run “relocation/detention camps” for use when the declaration of martial law occurs *after* one of the parties goes uber-Fascist on us all.
[and all road signs have secret sigils and messages pointing to the secret locations on them too, if you’ll just look at the backs]
Here’s one, just for fun:
I’m too lazy to hunt up more for you but some of them have “eyewitness accounts” of seeing thousands of guillotines being loaded [or unloaded, depending] solely for the purpose of beheading us all.
Seriously, though, I *do* believe in a scenario in which we have to choose between conversion to Islam or death because it does fit biblical prophecy.
[mainly because they’re the only people who put “infidels” to “death by the sword” and who have “a form of holiness but deny the source, thereof”]
I do not, however, attach any apocalyptic significance to bar codes, microchips, et al.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.