Another good reason to have pets – Pets can detect cancer

My wife and I are big-time lovers of dogs.  We have a couple cats, too, but the dogs are our passion.  They are basically our kids for the time being, and they certainly demand that kind of treatment. 

I’ve often wondered what it would be like without them, but that image seems so boring to me.  As much as a handful they can be, there are innumerable moments of bliss as a dog-owner. 

I’m often reminded of a bumper sticker I once saw:

The more people I meet, the more I love my dog.

Here’s another bonus of being a pet-owner.  Just in the last several years, some anecdotes about dogs detecting cancers in their owners have surfaced and have actually prompted some research studies.  The article describes a study for bladder cancers, in which the dogs were trained to sniff the urine and were 3x more successful at detecting presence of cancer than chance alone (41% vs. 14%). 

My favorite part of that study is that one of the so-called “normals”, a healthy control subject was consistently identified by the dogs as having cancer.  Further investigation led to the discovery of a kidney cancer.

Another study demonstrated that dogs were 99 percent accurate in their identification of lung cancer  and 88 percent accurate in identifying breast cancer by breath samples.  Pretty amazing results.  They note, however, that the control subjects were all healthy, and thus it would be important to verify that the dogs could distinguish cancer from some other condition, e.g. infection.

This could be an interesting area of research, particularly if an abnormality can be identified and consistently measured in a laboratory setting. 

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