I recently came across an article in the Globe and Mail (Canada's national newspaper) about how the environment we live in might be affecting the rates of cancer in humans:
This month, the American Cancer Society's journal, Cancer, published a database identifying 216 chemicals that are known to cause breast cancer in animals. Many of the same chemicals are also present in consumer products, food contaminants, air pollutants, and in our places of work.
Until recently it was widely believed that cancer was caused mostly by our lifestyle and dietary choices, with a little bit of hereditary bad luck thrown in. It is not only humans, however, who are getting cancer. The evidence of cancer in the animal realm is one of many factors that are fuelling a sea change in public thinking about the causes of cancer.
I truly believe that the chemicals from the products we use and live with impact our health in ways we never suspected. My family had a very strange experience with chemicals from our bed frame a couple of years ago that opened my eyes to the environment we live in. Neither if my girls can't tolerate sulphites (aka sulfites) in foods (inherited from my dear mama) and so I now know more about that additive than I ever cared to (as an aside, it's rarely listed as a food ingredient but it's used in the processing of fruits and vegetables and remains in the food in small quantities).
The article goes on to talk specifically about dog cancer:
And then there is the disturbing evidence of cancer in dogs. A 1989 study of more than 8,000 dogs showed that canine bladder cancer was associated with their living in industrialized countries, mimicking the distribution of bladder cancer among humans.
Between 1975 and 1995 the incidence of bladder cancer in dogs examined at veterinary teaching schools in North America increased six-fold. Scottish terriers, Shetland sheepdogs, wirehaired fox terriers and West Highland white terriers had a higher risk than mixed breeds, suggesting a genetic susceptibility to cancer among the terriers, but not a reason for the increase.
When researchers interviewed the owners of Scottish terriers with bladder cancer, they found that dogs whose owners had used phenoxy acid herbicides on their lawns were four to seven times more likely to have cancer than dogs whose owners had not.
The "cancer in dogs" studies reveal the multi-factorial nature of cancer. Bladder cancer in dogs is linked to the use of insecticidal flea and tick dips, but more so if the dogs were obese, and lived near another source of pesticides. Dietary protection is important, too. In the terrier study, the researchers found that when the Scotties ate green leafy vegetables three times a week, there was a 90% reduction in their risk of cancer.
I think that last statement is key - cancer is multi-faceted. Your dog may be more prone to cancer but there are things you can do to reduce the risk. Perhaps using natural lawn treatments instead of the usual chemicals and feeding your dog leafy vegetables might be a good start?
What do you think?