Akita Rescue Society of America


Cancer & Diet

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Diet and Cancer


Similarities between canine and human cancers are striking; information learned from one can apply to the other species. Extrapolation works both ways—known causes of human cancers cannot be overlooked when studying the causes of cancer in dogs. For example, we know that farmers appear to experience elevated rates for several cancers, including leukemia, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, soft-tissue sarcoma, and cancers of the skin, lip, stomach, brain, and prostate. The rates for several of these tumors (non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, multiple myeloma, skin, brain, and prostate cancers) appear to be increasing in the general population, and lymphoma has increased in the canine population. Studies to further characterize the cancer risk among farmers, link the increased incidence of these cancers to biocides like herbicides, fungicides and pesticides, engine exhausts, solvents, and dusts.

Children exposed to pesticides from use in homes, schools, lawns and gardens, through food and contaminated drinking water, and from agricultural application drift, have been found to suffer from increases in leukemia, neuroblastoma, Wilms' tumor, soft-tissue sarcomas, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and cancers of the brain, and testes. Attempting to identify general causes of cancer and incidence rates is a complex and difficult process. Common sense tells us that chemicals formulated to kill one species can harm another! Texas A & M Veterinary Medical Center’s Oncology department says dogs are 35 times more likely to suffer skin cancer than you are, four times as likely to develop a breast tumor, eight times as likely to suffer bone cancer, and twice as likely to develop leukemia. Fluoride in the water has been linked to osteosarcoma in young boys, which is an awful fact since most of the municipal water supplies throughout the country have fluoride added.

Unlike cat lymphoma, canine lymphoma does not appear to be caused by a virus. A case-control study to determine a link between environmental pollutants and an increased risk for canine lymphoma found two variables positively and independently associated with the disease, namely residency in industrial areas and the use of chemicals by dog owners. In epidemiologic studies, lymphoma has been associated with exposure to chemicals such as phenoxyacetic acids; chlorophenols; dioxins; organic solvents including benzene, polychlorinated biphenyls, chlordanes; and immunosuppressive drugs. Experimental evidence and clinical observations indicate that these chemicals may impair the immune system.

A National Cancer Institute study suggests that contamination of drinking water with nitrate, a chemical found in fertilizers, has been linked to an increased risk of lymphomas, particularly in agricultural areas. In the human population, cancers of the lymphatic system have increased by 75% since 1973.


There is hope, but cancer remains a complex disease with multiple risk factors, including genetics. Reducing these risk factors by feeding a balanced diet free of pesticides and preservatives, supplementing with anti-inflammatory Omega-3 essential fatty acids and antioxidants; protecting the immune system from over vaccination, and avoiding exposure to toxic chemicals are ways you can protect your pets. Protection and prevention may not guarantee immunity from cancer but it was all we had until Avemar or Immunovet.

Unconventional cancer therapies are basically any approach to the treatment and care of the cancer patient that falls outside conventional cancer treatments. A small percentage of unethical people consider cancer a business, they ply upon your desperation to sell you ineffective “cures.”

There are no miracles, but complementary veterinary medicine embraces all aspects of holistic therapy, including homeopathy, Chinese herbal medicine, acupuncture, nutraceuticals, vitamins and diet. It is used alone or in conjunction with conventional medical treatments to diminish symptoms and heal the immune system. The use of Avemar is proving to be of great value in dealing with cancer patients and will prove to be of equal value when used for prevention.

Proper nutrition can help heal the immune system and deprive cancer cells of nutrients that help their growth. Tumor cells rely heavily upon carbohydrates for their energy and rob the body of amino acids. On the other hand, tumor cells cannot utilize lipids (fats) for energy while the rest of the body can. As such, diets with increased fat content may slow tumor growth, allowing the patient to fight against the tumor.

One of the side effects of cancer is malnutrition. Dr. R.M. Clemmons, associate professor of neurology and neurosurgery with the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences at the University of Florida encourages dog owners to provide life-sustaining nutrients. “Protein content must be maintained at levels sufficient for tissue repair, but carbohydrates should be held to a minimum.” “…For those who cannot cook for their dog, a commercial food should be of good quality, moderate protein (18-22%) content, low carbohydrate (3-13%) content, and high fat (55-60%) content.” Carbohydrates turn into “sugar” in the body and sugar feeds cancer cells. Dr. Otto Warburg received the Nobel prize in 1931 for his discovery that unlike all other cells in the human body, cancer cells do not breathe oxygen. Cancer cells are anaerobic, which means that they derive their energy without needing oxygen. It turns out that cancer cells cannot survive in the presence of high levels of oxygen. The energy source for cancer cells is from fermented sugar!

Dr. Dody Tyneway, DVM, owner of the Holistic Veterinary Center in Calabasas, CA (818-880-0838) believes that kibble, though convenient and easy to feed, is too highly processed to contain many healthy precursors and antioxidants. “Kibble is produced through a process known as extrusion. The food mixture is cooked under high temperatures, which alters the proteins and nutrients. After the mixture is cooked, vitamins, nutrients and fats are sprayed back on after the kibble is processed. Obviously, because kibble is not completely balanced, we need to add fresh, unprocessed nutrients to our pet’s feeding regimen whenever possible.” 

So, if you are dealing with a current cancer, or hoping to prevent the disease, remember the most salient points:  diet means fresh foods, organic wherever possible, raw whenever feasible and supplements with lots of digestive enzymes, probiotics, wild caught fish oils and definitely add Avemar or Immunovet to your feeding regimen.

© 2002 Barbara Bouyet

Excerpted from “Akita-Treasure of Japan, Volume II”