My colleague, Sharon Peters, wrote a very interesting article in a recent edition of USA Today about preventing and treating cancer in dogs. As discussed in the article, there are many organizations that raise money to fund canine cancer research.
As I read her article, it got me to thinking how much we focus on treating cancer in dogs, cats, and people, but rarely spend any time or money focusing on the prevention of this horrible disease. Yet it makes infinitely more sense to prevent cancer than to treat it. Despite advances in cancer treatments, cancer is still considered a fatal disease for most patients who contract it, which means that treatment is ultimately ineffective in curing the patient (although it may the patient in remission for an extended period of time.)
In my book, The Natural Vet’s Guide to Preventing and Treating Cancer in Dogs, I list a number of ways pet owners can prevent or at least minimize cancer in their pets. Many of these suggestions apply to other pets as well as people.
Reducing unnecessary vaccinations-no pet or person requires multiple vaccines given every year, yet it is standard practice in veterinary medicine to vaccinate dogs and cats at least annually if not more often. Unnecessary vaccinations are a waste of money, offer no extra protection to the patient, and may in fact interact negatively with the patient’s immune system causing diseases such as cancer.
Eating a proper diet-the average American diet is high in processed foods containing a number of cancer and other disease inducing ingredients such as partially hydrogenated vegetable oils and high fructose corn syrup. The same harmful ingredients are often found in our pets foods as well. Simply eating better and feeding our pets better will maximize health and reduce many diseases that result from chronic inflammation and cell damage.
Take supplements-a number of supplements have shown benefits in reducing inflammation and cell damage, which will decrease chronic inflammatory diseases such as cancer. High-dose fish oil, antioxidants, and daily vitamin and mineral supplements can increase longevity and reduce the incidence of cancer. In times of additional inflammation and oxidative cell damage, such as exposure to radiation from diagnostic X-ray testing or airport screening, additional cancer fighting supplements such as green tea, curcumin, resveratrol, and quercetin are especially helpful.
Following just these few simple guidelines will go a long way to aid in the prevention of cancer. While treatment of cancer will always be important, it is obvious that preventing cancer is a much better and less expensive choice.