By Dr. Alison Book, DACVIM Oncology 

Nutrition and Cancer: part 2

Before discussing the relationship between nutrition and development of cancer, it is important to realize that the cause of cancer in a human or pet is complicated and involves many interacting factors. While there is a compelling link between certain nutritional risk factors and cancer, this does NOT mean these factors alone cause cancer.

In humans, two major nutritional factors have been associated with an increased risk of cancer: excess body weight (obesity) and low fruit and vegetable consumption. In pets, there is only a small amount of research looking at the effect of nutrition on cancer development and these issues can be complicated to study. However, information does suggest that diet and body weight may have an effect on cancer risk.

Three recommendations for cancer prevention

1. Keep your pets at an ideal body weight.
Besides reducing your pet’s risk for other medical problems such as diabetes, joint and skin problems, obesity early in life has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer in female dogs. It remains unknown whether obesity increases the risk of developing other cancers in dogs and cats.

2. Feed your dog or cat a nutritionally balanced diet.
In one study, dogs receiving nontraditional, poorly balanced diets such as table food had a higher risk of developing cancer. A diet high in red meat was also considered a risk factor.

3. Consider the addition of safe vegetables and fruits.
Although other factors may also have been at play, one study found that the addition of fruits and vegetables to the diet of Scottish terriers resulted in a lower incidence of a particular type of bladder cancer (transitional cell carcinoma) to which they are genetically predisposed. Talk to your veterinarian about safe ways to incorporate fruits and vegetables into the diet.