Why Is There So Much Cancer In Pets?

Dr. Rob Silver of Colorado State University is on the cutting edge of integrative veterinary cancer management in dogs and cats.  I had the distinct pleasure of attending one of his lectures at a recent veterinary conference I attended.  The insights I came away with were eye opening with regard to why there is so much cancer in dogs and cats and what proven alternative treatments are available to us to prevent and treat cancer.  This article will focus on cancer incidence and prevention in our pets.

One of the most troubling aspects of cancer is the surge of its incidence in pets in the past decade.  Statistically, 50% of all pets born in the the last 10 years will ultimately die of cancer.  While this is very concerning for our valued furry family members that we love, it should also trouble people as it pertains to future human health.  With much shorter life spans than people, disease patterns in dogs and cats (especially dogs that physiologically are a lot like us) often provide a preview of what may be in store for future human populations as we proportionately age.

Dr. Silver highlighted 6 main contributors to the sharp rise of cancer in pets:

1.) GMO derived pet foods

GMO stands for genetically modified organisms.  As it applies to food, this refers to genetically modifying seed so that food crops are resistant to damage from spraying herbicide.  I just recently wrote an article on GMO and its link to cancer in pets and people, so please refer to this article for more on GMO and why it is likely a contributing factor in the rise of cancer in pets:

Why Are GMO Foods So Bad For Pets And People?

2.) Food processing

The processing of pet food has several effects of the quality of food that may promote or worsen cancer.  The first is that processing into kibble requires a large amount of high glycemic index carbohydrates.  Cancer metabolism differs from the metabolism of normal cells and tissues and thrives on this kind of energy nutrient.  High glycemic index carbohydrates play such a prominent role in supporting cancer metabolism that using anti-diabetes drugs have also come to the forefront of management of many types of cancers.

Processed pet foods often contain red dye # 3, a known carcinogen.  Processed foods commonly generate glycotoxins, a set of oxidant compounds that create oxidative stress on the body’s tissues and negate the benefits of anti-oxidants in the food.

3.)  Rapidly declining air quality

The World Health Organization has declared poor air quality to be the single greatest human health risk of the millennium.  Since 2006 to present, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have increased from 375 PPM to 400 PPM and there are no indications that this rise will be curtailed any time soon.

A phenomenon known as ‘ground-level ozone’ occurs when carbon monoxide and other toxic gases interact with one another while being exposed to sunlight. The EPA links ground-level ozone conditions to reduced lung function and chronic inflammation of the airways.

4.)  Ozone generated by ionizing air purifiers and printers

The research is still conflicting on the potential cancer causing properties of  ozone, but it is worth mentioning that in some studies, ozone has been shown to alter the the growth characteristics of epithelial cells, a cell line of living tissue where cancer commonly arises.

While a direct link of ozone in it purest form (not the ground level ozone as discussed above) generated from air purifiers and printers, it is reasonable to be cautious that any environmental factor that can alter cellular growth cycles could potentially be carcinogenic.  A major characteristic of cancer afterall is the unregulated and unrestricted growth and replication of cells.

5.) Second hand smoke

Second hand smoke in the home is significantly more impactful (in a negative way) to pets than to people (and we already know how bad it is for people).  Gravity pulls a higher concentration of second hand smoke to the ground level where pets spend a greater majority of their time.  The result is a much higher carcinogenic effect in pets.

6.) Formaldehyde and flame retardants in wood, carpets, and curtains

Hardwood floors, furniture, rugs, insulation, and curtains commonly contain the preservative formaldehyde in them, a well known carcinogen.  These same fixtures also commonly contain flame retardants such as TDCIPP, a known carcinogen.  Pets tend to spend a lot of time on the carpet putting them at great risk of exposure to these potential cancer causing elements in these items

One can clearly see that cancer causing environmental and food considerations surround us.  This article is not meant to instill panic among my readers, but instead create awareness of the circumstances that are contributing to a sharp increase in cancer in our pets.

While it is nor realistic that we will eliminate every potential source of carcinogen in our lives and the lives of our pets, depending on our life styles and individual capacities to make changes, being aware of these problems, we can at least chip away at some of these predispositions to cancer and reduce the overall risk.

For example, carpet is old and needs replacement?  Consider going for tile or hard wood floors not treated with formaldehyde or flame retardant.  Do not smoke in the home.  Make dietary changes.

In my next article, I will be highlighting more specific changes that can be made to help prevent cancer in pets.  Stay tuned!

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

Why Are GMO Foods So Bad For Pets And People?

I just returned from the Veterinary Meeting Expo in Orlando, a large veterinary continuing education conference.  One of the most enlightening days I spent was attending a series of lectures put on by a prestigious group of integrative veterinary specialists.  This article is based on what I learned about foods derived from GMO and why it is widely believed to be one of the prevalent reasons the incidence of cancer and other metabolic diseases in dogs and cats are vastly on the rise (statistically, more than 50% of dogs and cats born in the last decade will die from cancer).  This article will focus on the likely role GMO derived pet foods will play in that troubling statistic, but fresh of my conference much more is to follow!

GMO stands for genetically modified organisms.  Specifically as it applies to food, the most passionate debate about GMO is its widespread use in agriculture where food crops grown from seed that is genetically modified to produce plants and their food yields that are resistant to damage from the mass spraying of an herbicide (weed killer) called Round Up.

Round Up and GMO seed were originally patented and mass produced by a company called Monsanto.  Critics of the use of GMO point to two troubling aspects of GMO: 1.) The resultant strains of produce food crops that are disruptors of the body’s hormone systems; and 2.) rather than having to take more care in spraying just the weed areas of their crops, farmers with GMO crops genetically modified to be resistant to damage from the herbicide, may now instead be less discerning and spray larger, widespread quantities.  The latter results in more herbicide sprayed directly on our food (and hence more direct consumption), more herbicide in the groundwater and soil, and a net compounding effect of the already inherent hormone disrupting effects of the food the crops produce.

In 2012, a group of French scientists performed a study of GMO derived corn with test rats.  The genetic line of rats used in the research has a long established history of control data and is widely used in scientific studies.  The study was published in the scientific journal Elsevier.

The findings of the research found an unusual statistically high incidence and mortality rate in rats fed GMO corn via kidney disease, liver disease, and most significantly, the incidence of mammary cancer (equivalent to breast cancer in people).  Once published in Elsevier, the store and the research behind it was vehemently attacked via a mass letter writing campaign.  Elsevier under mounting pressure, retracted the article in 2013.

It was later discovered that a majority of the letter writing and dissenting scientists of the French study had either direct or indirect financial ties to Monsanto.  This eventually led to a republishing of the article with all of its research findings in the German run scientific journal, Environmental Sciences Europe, in 2014.  French researchers that published the study have maintained the integrity of their research on GMO and Round Up and considered the initial retraction scientific censorship.  Here is an actual image of malignant mammary tumors that developed in test rats used in the study:

Rats Mammary Tumors Monsanto GMO Research

GMO remains banned in France and most European countries.  On the other hand, 95% of corn consumed in foods in the United States by pets and people comes from GMO crops.

I will leave you with an interesting development in the field of GMO…Monsanto no longer exists.  The company was purchased by animal and human pharmaceutical giant, Bayer.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

Primary source for article: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jun/24/controversial-seralini-study-gm-cancer-rats-republished