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Can Dogs Smell Cancer?

dog_noseScienceDaily (Jan. 6, 2006) — In a society where lung and breast cancers are leading causes of cancer death worldwide, early detection of the disease is highly desirable. In a new scientific study, researchers present astonishing new evidence that man’s best friend, the dog, may have the capacity to contribute to the process of early cancer detection.

In this study which will be published in the March 2006 issue of the journal Integrative Cancer Therapies published by SAGE Publications, researchers reveal scientific evidence that a dog’s extraordinary scenting ability can distinguish people with both early and late stage lung and breast cancers from healthy controls. The research, which was performed in California, was recently documented by the BBC in the United Kingdom, and is soon to be aired in the United States.

Other scientific studies have documented the abilities of dogs to identify chemicals that are diluted as low as parts per trillion. The clinical implications of canine olfaction first came to light in the case report of a dog alerting its owner to the presence of a melanoma by constantly sniffing the skin lesion. Subsequent studies published in major medical journals confirmed the ability of trained dogs to detect both melanomas and bladder cancers. The new study, led by Michael McCulloch of the Pine Street Foundation in San Anselmo, California, and Tadeusz Jezierski of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Institute of Genetics and Animal Breeding, is the first to test whether dogs can detect cancers only by sniffing the exhaled breath of cancer patients.

In this study, five household dogs were trained within a short 3-week period to detect lung or breast cancer by sniffing the breath of cancer participants. The trial itself consisted of 86 cancer patients (55 with lung cancer and 31 with breast cancer) and a control sample of 83 healthy patients. All cancer patients had recently been diagnosed with cancer through biopsy-confirmed conventional methods such as a mammogram, or CAT scan and had not yet undergone any chemotherapy treatment. During the study, the dogs were presented with breath samples from the cancer patients and the controls, captured in a special tube. Dogs were trained to give a positive identification of a cancer patient by sitting or lying down directly in front of a test station containing a cancer patient sample, while ignoring control samples. Standard, humane methods of dog training employing food rewards and a clicker, as well as assessment of the dog’s behavior by observers blinded to the identity of the cancer patient and control samples, were used in the experiment.

The results of the study showed that dogs can detect breast and lung cancer with sensitivity and specificity between 88% and 97%. The high accuracy persisted even after results were adjusted to take into account whether the lung cancer patients were currently smokers. Moreover, the study also confirmed that the trained dogs could even detect the early stages of lung cancer, as well as early breast cancer. The researchers concluded that breath analysis has the potential to provide a substantial reduction in the uncertainty currently seen in cancer diagnosis, once further work has been carried out to standardize and expand this methodology.

This study was supported by the MACH Foundation (Fairfax, CA), Guide Dogs for the Blind (San Rafael, CA) and Frank and Carol Rosemayr (Kentfield, CA).

Adapted from materials provided by SAGE Publications, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

Posted:  Just One More Pet – 04.27.09

April 27, 2009 Posted by | Animal or Pet Related Stories, animals, Just One More Pet, Pet and Animal Training, Pets, Success Stories, Unusual Stories, We Are All God's Creatures | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Common Chemicals Linked to Health Problems and Infertility… in Humans and Animals

There is a new health study linking infertility, still births and birth defects to common chemicals.  

Researchers have found chemicals called perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) might be linked to delays in getting pregnant. PFCs are everywhere — in Teflon cookware, shampoos, floor wax, food wrapping, carpet treatments and other cleaning products. PFCs are also present in air and water in the form of industrial waste from chemical plants.  95% of all Americans have PFC’s in their blood.

There is no exact figure that I was able to find on the percentage or levels of PFC’s in the blood of  animals and especially domesticated animals and in our pets.  However there is disturbing data on the affects of PFC’s on rats (see below).

In 2007, a study at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health linked PFOA to lower birth weights among newborns.  Years earlier, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revealed that PFOA “poses developmental and reproductive risks to humans.”

Further, in animal studies PFOA has been associated with:

• “Significant increases in treatment related deaths” in rat offspring at doses that did not affect the mothers
• Serious changes in the weight of various organs, including the brain, prostate, liver, thymus, and kidneys
• The deaths of a significant number of rat pups of mothers that had been exposed to PFOA
• Damage to the pituitary at all doses in female rat offspring (The pituitary secretes hormones that regulate growth, reproduction, and many metabolic processes. Change in pituitary size is associated with toxicity).

Additionally, PFOA has been associated with tumors in at least four different organs in animal tests, and has been associated with increases in prostate cancer in PFOA plant workers. The EPA has also ruled PFCs as “likely carcinogens.”

Some of the biggest offenders and producers of PFC’s are:

• Teflon and other non-stick cookware
• Microwave popcorn bags
• Packaging for greasy foods
• Stain-proof clothing
• Carpet and fabric protectors
• Flame retardants 

And all of these items affect or are used in products made for or used by our pets, except the microwave  popcorn bags.

Because these chemicals are so widespread that it will be difficult to eliminate them from your home or your pets environment entirely, but anything you can do will be a positive for yourself, your chidren and your pets and animals!

Pesticides, mercury, caffeine, soy and soy formula are all on the toxicity list for pregnant and nursing women.  Many of the chemicals that cause fertility issues, still births and birth defects in humans also cause the same results in pets and animals. And perhaps  these and additional health hazards are even multiplied in them and in toddlers and small children since the exposure in of toddlers, small children, pets and animals is multiplied by the amount of time they all spend on the floor in direct contact with carpets, floor wax and other chemicals like pecticides and cleaning products, plus their propensity for sticking objects and their own contaminated hands and paws into their mouths.

We live in a toxic world and need to be vigilant for ourselves, our children, our pets and living breathing creatures of all kinds.

By: Marion AlgierAsk Marion for Just One More Pet

Source:  Dr. Mercola

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February 18, 2009 Posted by | Animal Rights And Awareness, Just One More Pet, Pet Health, Pets, Political Change | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Pet Therapy

“All over the world, major universities researching the therapeutic value of pets in our society and the number of hospitals, nursing homes, prisons and mental institutions are employing full-time pet therapists.”  …Betty White, American Actress, Animal Activist, and Author of Pet Love

Researchers are finding that pets truly have the power to heal their owners, especially the elderly. The most serious disease for older people is not cancer or heart disease, but loneliness.

Too often, people who live alone or are suddenly widowed die of broken hearts. Love is the most important medicine and pets are one of nature’s best sources of affection. Pets relax and calm. They take the human mind off loneliness, grief, pain, and fear. They cause laughter and offer a sense of security and protection. They encourage exercise and broaden the circle of one’s acquaintances.

Patients in hospitals and nursing homes who have regular visits from pets – whether their own or those brought in from various agencies – are more receptive to medical treatment and nourishment. Animals give the patient the will to live and in nursing homes, the medical staff is often surprised to see residents suddenly “become alive.” Animals have a calming effect on humans and benefit mental well-being, especially with children and the elderly.

In recent years, the experts have been relying on pet therapy as a valuable aid in reaching out to the elderly, the infirm, and to ill or abused children through-out the country. Therapy animals go to convalescent homes, hospitals, day care centers, juvenile halls, and prisons. These animals are trained to be calm, gentle and well-mannered, especially around rambunctious children. There are no breed requirements.

In fact, many therapy animals are mixed breeds. They come in all sizes and shapes. Cats and small dogs are good because they can be lifted easily and fit even on the smallest laps. A large dog makes a good companion for someone in a wheelchair, sitting patiently and allowing the occupant to stroke his fur.

Most important is that the therapy cats and dogs have a calm, gentle personality and are people-oriented. They must love attention and petting and not be shy. In addition, they need basic obedience training and should be conditioned to sudden noises. They provide an invaluable service to those who are lonely, abandoned, or ill; indeed, anyone who needs the miraculous healing that can arise from a hug and a gentle touch.

Children, especially those who are abused or neglected, are able to communicate with animals. A pet offers a safe place for a child with emotional problems. They give unconditional love, providing a security blanket.

A dog, cat, ferret or parrot can be the bond that glues a family together when upheaval, such as moving, death or divorce, occurs. Often, an animal can reach a child beyond an adult’s touch.

Mary Kelly, a child-life specialist at Children’s Hospital in Oakland, CA(USA), coordinates pet therapy sessions twice a month. She keeps a camera on hand to record the incredible connections that occur. “We’ve had very dramatic visits where a dog brought a child who has not spoken for months out of depression,” she states. “Most kids can relate to animals, so seeing and touching the pets brings them a sense of normalcy.”

Professionals in the field of pet-assisted therapy find that in addition to cats and dogs, fish, pot-bellied pigs, birds, reptiles, rabbits, guinea pigs, goats, horses and llamas are also valuable healers. They have also found pets lower blood pressure and stress levels, give the patient a reason to interact, offer a chance to exercise and a sense of security and/or intimacy, allow communication, and offer continuity in life.

The innocence of animals and their ability to love makes animals special. Human beings want to be part of their world, to connect with them in a mysterious and powerful way that will strengthen and nurture both humans and animals.

Allen Schoen, DVM says “In order to bond with animals, we have to step outside ourselves and learn to communicate on their terms.” During his years as a veterinarian, Dr. Schoen tells how love for our pets can literally save lives and how their love for us can be transforming in his bookLove, Miracles and Animal Healing.

That animals feel our pain, our joy, and our stress should come as no surprise for anyone who has a pet. Whether we recognize it or not, the emotional as well as the physical environment we humans create has a direct impact on the way our pets behave. Dr. Schoen explains that “…we emit energetic signals related to our deepest feelings that are picked up by those around us – especially our pets.” The emotional benefits from animals are difficult to measure, meaning that pets help humans without anyone knowing exactly why. What experts know, however, is that animals allow humans to focus, even for a short period of time, on something other than themselves.

Animals, especially small ones, have shown promise for many conditions, both social and physical:

  • Pets help Alzheimer’s patients by bringing them back to the present. Specially trained pups can also help alert others that an Alzheimer’s patient has wandered into harm’s way. “Pets can provide a measure of safety to people with the disease,” says Thomas Kirk, a vice president of a chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.
  • Children who suffer from attention deficit disorder (ADD) are able to focus on a pet, which helps them learn to concentrate.
  • Mentally ill patients, or those with emotional problems, share a common bond when a cat or dog enters the room. Instead of reacting negatively to one another, it boosts morale and fosters a positive environment.
  • Pets are an antidote to depression. Life in a care facility can be boring. A visit from a therapy cat or dog breaks the daily routine and stimulates interest in the world outside.
  • Pets provide social interaction. In a health care facility, people come out of their rooms to socialize with the animals and with each other.
  • Everyone has the need to touch. Many humans are uncomfortable hugging or touching strangers, even those close to them. Some people are alone and have no hands to hold, no bodies to hug. But rubbing the fur of a cat or dog can provide a stimulation that is sorely lacking. The nonverbal connection is invaluable in the healing process.
  • Pets are a source of expectation, hope and communication. Looking forward to a social call or getting home after time away gives that spark of anticipation all humans need to help feel alive. Pets can help start a conversation, and help one who is struggling against unusual difficulties in learning to speak for the first time or after a speech impairment such as a stroke.

Animals also provide healing outside domestic settings: dolphin and pet-assisted therapy, horseback riding, farm animal and wildlife interaction, and marine life activity.

The incredible abilities of pets are astounding:

Dogs sniff out deadly land mines in Bosnia and earthquakes worldwide, searching for victims. After the bombing in Oklahoma City, OK (USA), they crawled through twisted metal and broken glass in 12 hour shifts, searching for survivors. K-9 Corps dogs work with police and military personnel to uncover drugs, bombs and criminals. At airports, specially trained beagles scramble through cargo and baggage for illegal contraband, including foreign viruses. They aid the blind and assist the deaf and disabled. They have been used to detect cancerous lesions, long before they look suspicious. And we must never forget the combat dogs who served our countries, War Dogs – Dogs in Combat.

Cats are certainly the most curious and also the most psychic of pets. Throughout the ages, they have predicted earthquakes and other natural disasters, found missing persons and alerted their owners to danger. They can sense when a person needs help. Betty White relates the story of Handsome, a Persian cat who was taken to a nursing home and met Marie, a lonely senior with no friends and no family. She remained curled in a fetal position with no interest in living. She had sores on her legs from constant scratching. After Handsome became Marie’s roommate, whenever she tried to scratch herself, he would play with her hands or otherwise distract her. Within a month the sores had healed. But even more incredible, she was so fascinated with the cat that she asked the staff about his care. Before long, she was inviting other residents to come visit with her pet.

Even more dramatic is the story of Nina Sweeney fromLawrence, MA (USA). Her seven cats and dog saved her life one fateful night in January. The temperature was bitterly cold when she went to bed. During the night Nina was struck with a paralyzing illness that left her helpless. Unable to leave her bed, she listened as the fire in her stove sputtered and died. Outside, the thermometer registered below zero and the numbing chill seeped into the house. Nina prayed someone would find her as she shivered beneath her blankets. Two days passed before neighbors investigated. When they reached her, they found Nina alive and warm, one cat on either side of her, another draped like a fur on her neck. One was nestled on her chest and another under her arm. Beneath the covers were two other cats. Her dog lay across her stomach. Her pets had kept Nina from freezing to death.

A pet is an animal that is very beneficial to its owner. There’s even now a type of treatment called pet therapy. I myself have a pet dog and since having it, many things in my household have changed for the better. Below are 3 things why owning a pet will positively affect your life.

Firstly, a pet like any other animal needs to eat and shit. They have a daily schedule that needs to be attended to. Like for example, my pet dog eats 2 meals a day, once in the morning and once in the night. He gets his shower on Saturdays. So, caring for a pet actually encourages nurturance, responsibility and adherence to a daily schedule. This is especially a solid reason for you to convince your parent to get that pet you’ve been wanting.

Secondly, pets improve a person’s mood. No matter how angry, sad or stressed out you may be, spending time with your pet will put your focus and attention on it. There are actually 2 things that can suddenly improve your mood. One is a pet and the other is a baby. In this case, adopting a pet is easily more attainable than a baby.

Lastly, the third reason why you should own a pet is for accompaniment. This is especially beneficial to the elderly. Pets make you feel accepted every time. For example, my pet dog is usually left hanging around alone in the compound of my house. Even if you leave him alone the whole day, he will still come and lick me whenever I’m around. If that’s not love, then I don’t know what is. Pets are also good listeners. Sharing your burden with it helps to alleviate your mind and put you at peace.

Posted by:  Just One More Pet

Source:  True Health Is True Wealth

Permalink: https://justonemorepet.wordpress.com/2008/09/17/pet-therapy/

September 17, 2008 Posted by | animals, Just One More Pet, Pets, Success Stories, We Are All God's Creatures | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Doggie ‘doctors’ diagnose their owners’ ills

Canines’ keen sense of smell & intuition helps them detect people’s disease

Morgan, a Yorkshire terrier, jumped at owner Pamela Plante’s leg so incessantly that she that she finally inspected it in the mirror, and realized it was red up to her knee. She was diagnosed with an  infection that had spread throughout her body and she spent a week in the hospital.“After she jumped on my leg, she would sit and look at me and shake or shiver,” says the Smithfield, R.I., woman. (Photo by Pamela Plante)

“From past experience, I knew she would shake like that when she was in pain, so I picked her up and checked her all over trying to find out what was wrong and couldn’t find anything. When I put her down she would jump on my leg again.”

Finally, Plante inspected her leg in a mirror and discovered it was red up to the knee.

Plante called her doctor who told her to get checked immediately. She was diagnosed with sepsis and spent a week in the hospital recovering from the infection that started in her leg and spread through her body.

Sensitive dogs, such as Morgan, are proving that besides being man’s best friend, some canines also have a lifesaving sixth sense. Dogs’ keen ability to differentiate smells enables some of them to know we’re sick long before we might ourselves. Combine that with their 24/7 observation of us and some pets have proven to be skilled diagnosticians, even if we’re not always sure what they’re trying to tell us.

In the past few years, studies have shown that dogs can sniff out both early and late stage lung and breast cancers. The Pine Street Foundation, a non-profit cancer education and research organization, in San Anselmo, Calif., is even training dogs to recognize ovarian cancer.

Some dogs have also been shown capable of detecting skin cancer.

Riker, a 9-year-old Australian Shepherd who lives with Liz and Paul Palika in Oceanside, Calif., poked insistently at Liz’s father’s chest. “Dad, did you leave some of your dinner on your shirt?” Liz teased him. But Riker wouldn’t stop. To satisfy him, Liz and her mother took a closer look. There was a lump on her father’s chest. A trip to the doctor revealed a melanoma that had spread beneath the skin.

Other dogs have been taught to catch when diabetics’ blood sugar levels drop. And for about the past 20 years, “seizure dogs” have been used to alert their owners to a pending seizure and assist them to a safe place until it’s over.

Lifesaving cat
It’s not just dogs who have proven to have life-saving noses. Ardis Matson of Brookings, S.D., credits a gray tomcat named Tuffy with keeping her mother alive and able to live on her own for several years. “My mother was elderly and had insulin-dependent diabetes,” Matson says. “Often, her blood sugar would go dangerously low during the night and if left unchecked it could have caused her to go into a coma and die. Tuffy always slept with her, and when her blood sugar started slipping really low during the night, he would nudge her and walk across her body and keep aggravating her until she would get up and take glucose to make her blood sugar levels rise. When she was in control again, Tuffy would go back to sleep.”

And then there’s Oscar, a cat who lives at Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Providence, R.I. He alerts staff to the impending death of patients, a gift that allows families to be notified in time to say their good-byes.

The answer to how animals know something is wrong may be up in the air — literally. Dogs and cats have a keener sense of smell than humans, and that may enable them to detect subtle changes in body odor caused by such things as cancer cells or lowered blood sugar.

In the case of Oscar, for instance, veterinarian Margie Scherk, president of the American Association of Feline Practitioners, notes that he may be picking up a variety of clues that people are too busy to notice or don’t have the sensory capacity to detect.

“Cats live in a world of smells; their olfactory sense is a lot more acute than that of a human,” Scherk says. “People who are dying, as well as those who aren’t eating, emit ketotic odors, which might be one cue that cats like Oscar detect. There could easily be other odors that a dying individual produces that our noses are unable to note.”

In addition to being able to pick up certain odors, dogs and cats also seem to be able to recognize that it means there’s a problem their owners need to know about.

“There is reason to believe that some odors do have an ‘intrinsic’ value to the animal, that evolution has led to the development of neural pathways that specialize in detecting and processing relevant categories of smell,” says Timothy E. Holy, assistant professor of anatomy and neurobiology at Washington University in St. Louis. “Experience, too, plays a big role. You can train a dog to react in particular ways to relatively arbitrary smells.”

Those smells might include the breath of a person with lung cancer or the urine of a person with bladder cancer.

So the next time your dog or cat is nagging you, don’t ignore him. He might have something important to say. Just ask Joan Beck of Cottage Grove, Minn.

“One morning I woke up in the throes of a severe asthma attack. My husband was already awake and taking a shower. I was having so much trouble breathing that I couldn’t call for help. Our English springer spaniel, Sam, suddenly appeared, nosed me for a moment, then turned around and left the room. My husband said later that Sam pushed the bathroom door open and insisted that he follow Sam back to our bedroom. ‘Who needs Lassie when we have Sam?’ my husband says.”

By:  Kim Campbell Thornton is an award-winning author who has written many articles and more than a dozen books about dogs and cats. She belongs to the Dog Writers Association of America and is past president of the Cat Writers Association. She shares her home in California with three Cavalier King Charles spaniels and one African ringneck parakeet.

© 2008 MSNBC Interactive

August 29, 2008 Posted by | Animal Rights And Awareness, Just One More Pet, Pets, Success Stories | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment