ROCHESTER, MN—In a development that could provide valuable insight into the study of hypochondria, scientists at the Mayo Clinic introduced a strain of genetically engineered lab rats Thursday predisposed to think anything wrong with them might be cancer. “Thanks to new cutting-edge technology, we have produced a laboratory rat highly prone to believing any sniffle or cough is the first symptom of some terrible, life-threatening disease,” said lead researcher Marie Dyer, confirming that the rodents lay awake at night worrying that the bruise on their tail is undiagnosed leukemia and routinely tell their loved ones that the lump on their paw is probably a malignant tumor. “These animals are convinced they’re sick, spending the majority of their waking hours in a state of anxiety imagining every worst-case scenario regarding their health. They have been bred to panic about early-onset dementia any time they can’t remember a name and are likely to fall to the cage floor squeaking about ‘the big one’ whenever their heart skips a beat. We hope to glean a lot of valuable information from these fretful rodents who constantly assume they’re at death’s door.” Dyer added that the scientists were interested in how the laboratory rats would react once they actually were injected with cancer.

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