Is having a cat or dog associated with a higher or lower risk of developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma?
Every year, for example, 60,000 Americans come down with Non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a blood cancer that goes on to kill about 1 in 3 patients. There’s been a significant rise in incidence in past decades and no one really knows why.
Some have suspected exposure to the bovine leukemia virus, which infects the majority of herds in this country, and can cause similar tumors in cattle. More than 5 years ago, we learned that about three-quarters of people tested have been exposed to this virus, likely through their consumption of meat and dairy products.
The risk may extend beyond just eating animal products. The viral contamination of meat in general can give people who handle fresh meat for a living unpleasant conditions with names like contagious pustular dermatitis. In fact, meat is so laden with viruses that there’s a well-defined medical condition colloquially known as “butcher’s warts,” which affects the hands of those who handle fresh meat, including poultry and fish. Even the wives of butchers appear to be at higher risk for cervical cancer, a cancer definitively associated with wart virus exposure.
So in the first study of its kind researchers looked at farm animal exposure as a risk factor for human Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. To be fair, though, there’s also feline leukemia virus. And a child is likely to have more intimate contact with their family cat or dog, and other pets than with livestock. Harmful, harmless, or helpful? No matter how this comes out, though, remember I’m just the messenger.
In terms of our risk of developing non-Hodgkins lymphoma, contact with cows—harmful, harmless, or helpful?
Harmful, increases our risk.
What about pigs= contact? Harmful, harmless, or helpful?
Same as cattle—harmful, increases our risk.
What about having a cat? Or 3 like we do. Do cats increase our cancer risk, do nothing to our cancer risk, or maybe having cats is even protective against cancer?
Protective against cancer—in fact even if you don’t live with a cat now, but did in the past, you seem to be protected against developing lymphoma.
All right, now for you dog people: Canine companionship—now or in the past: harmful, harmless, or helpful?
And finally, what about other companion animals like corn loving hamsters. Rodents in the house—Increased risk, no risk, or decreased risk???
To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.
To help out on the site please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. And check out the other “HHH” videos (Harmful, Harmless, or Helpful?). Also, there are over a thousand subjects covered in the rest of my videos–please feel free to explore them as well!
Please be sure to check out my associated blog post for more context: Which Pets Improve Children's Health?
If you haven't yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.