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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Arizona Study Finds Pet Ownership Has No Association with Overall Cancer Incidence

Researchers from the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health and the UA Cancer Center led a study to examine the association between pet ownership and cancer prevention. The study is published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

David Garcia - large
[Photo: Dr. David O. Garcia]

Pet ownership (dog, cat, or bird) and cancer are both highly prevalent in the U.S. Evidence suggest associations may exist between pet ownership and cancer prevention, though studies are sparse. The present report examined whether pet ownership is associated with lower risk for total cancer and site-specific obesity-related cancers.

The investigators conducted a prospective analysis of 123,560 participants (20,981 dog owners; 19,288 cat owners; 1,338 bird owners; and 81,953 non-pet owners) enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) observational study and clinical trials. Cox proportional hazards models were used to estimate hazard ratios (HR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for the association between pet ownership and cancer, adjusted for potential confounders.

There were no significant relationships between ownership of a dog, cat, or bird and incidence of cancer overall. When site-specific cancers were examined, no associations were observed after adjustment for multiple comparisons.

“This is the first large epidemiological study to date to explore relationships between pet ownership and cancer risk, as well as associated risks for individual cancer types,” said lead author Dr. David Garcia, assistant professor at the UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health. “This study requires replication in other sizable, diverse cohorts.”