Pets & Human Lymphoma


“Pets & Human Lymphoma” Every year, for example, 60,000 Americans
come down with non-Hodgkin’s 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 five 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 those
just eating animal products, though. 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-Hodgkin’s 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, or
other pets, than with livestock. Animal contact and cancer risk— harmful, harmless, or helpful? And no matter how this
comes out, remember, I’m just the messenger. In terms of our risk of developing
non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, contact with cows— harmful, harmless, or helpful? Harmful, increases our risk. What about pig contact? Harmful, harmless, or helpful? Same as cattle; harmful,
increases our risk. What about having a cat? Or three, like we do. Do cats increase our cancer risk,
do nothing to our cancer risk, or maybe having cats is even
protective against cancer? What do you think? It turns out cats are 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? Good boy. And finally, what about
other companion animals, like corn-loving hamsters? Rodents in the house— increased risk, no risk,
or decreased risk? Decreased risk.

5 thoughts on “Pets & Human Lymphoma

  1. haha it was like waiting for the lottery while i was waiting for the results for having a dog. (although I don't buy lottery tickets)

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