Naturally, when we talk about the cause of cancer, diet is brought up.
Many will immediately poo-poo the notion that what is eaten can have an impact on cancer development. It is amazing. Watch the condemnation without investigation.
On the other hand, many feel there is a link, and there is evidence to support that view.
Why are we so reluctant to think about food contributing to cancer? Likely because it becomes inconvenient.
Well, most of us would rather get information than be in the dark, so let’s do just that.What about a dog’s diet might contribute to cancer? Here’s a look at a couple of things.
First, high temperature cooking of meat or fish, or the creation of their extracts can produce nasties called heterocyclic amines. You can read a little more about this here and here. These little guys have been shown to promote tumors in lab animals. Do dogs eat food that has been exposed to high temperatures? The truth is: yes.
Another carcinogen is polyacrylamide, again from high temperature cooking, this time of sugars in starch. Oddly, different strains of potatoes will produce different amounts of acrylamide when it is cooked. The bottom line though is that the different sugars influenced how much of the carcinogen is made. Here is some more on the topic.
Yet another is acylamide, related to polyacrylamide. Acrylamide levels go up when food is fried, and it is estimated in this paper that the levels of the acrylamide from fried food, in lab animals, might increase to risky levels contributing to possible cancer risk.
So what does this mean? Well, we don’t want to go around saying that every dog who eats dog food in a bag (and pressed through an extruder at high temperatures) will get cancer. That would be irrational and untrue.
However, there are genetic differences and lifestyle differences and carcinogen exposure differences, all from one dog to the next.
Since we know that cancer is created by many separate hits to the system, in certain dogs diet might be the thing that tips the scale.
These carcinogens hit the DNA, and damage genes. If the damage occurs to genes that are controlling cell growth, and enough hits happen, cells can start getting deranged. They divide and divide, instead of getting dismantled into their component parts by a process called apoptosis.
Deranged cells are supposed to be taken apart. Apoptosis is the thing that does it in the body. When cells become unhealthy, the apoptosis genes should get turned on to subvert the badness.
When there are too many cells with their growth genes stuck in the “on’ position, avoiding apoptosis, cancer can develop. This basic science led to the development of Apocaps, by the way.
The take home message is that the folks pushing for less cooking may have a point. I am not advocating an entirely raw diet for dogs by the way, and especially not for cancer patients. Raw from the grocery store is not raw out on the plains of Africa. Germs grow on the surface of meat in the store and dogs with cancer usually have immune compromise. That’s a bad mix.
But trimming the outside off and cooking red lean meats in low sodium broth at around 200 degrees while keeping the inside rare seems logical.
For more on diet and dog cancer, read The Dog Cancer Survival Guide.
Dr. Demian Dressler is internationally recognized as “the dog cancer vet” because of his innovations in the field of dog cancer management, and the popularity of his blog here at Dog Cancer Blog. The owner of South Shore Veterinary Care, a full-service veterinary hospital in Maui, Hawaii, Dr. Dressler studied Animal Physiology and received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California at Davis before earning his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University. After practicing at Killewald Animal Hospital in Amherst, New York, he returned to his home state, Hawaii, to practice at the East Honolulu Pet Hospital before heading home to Maui to open his own hospital. Dr. Dressler consults both dog lovers and veterinary professionals, and is sought after as a speaker on topics ranging from the links between lifestyle choices and disease, nutrition and cancer, and animal ethics. His television appearances include “Ask the Vet” segments on local news programs. He is the author of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog’s Life Quality and Longevity. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Hawaii Veterinary Medical Association, the American Association of Avian Veterinarians, the National Animal Supplement Council and CORE (Comparative Orthopedic Research Evaluation). He is also an advisory board member for Pacific Primate Sanctuary.