Ozone therapy is one of those things that people ask about sometimes. Kind of an odd bird, ozone. What’s the deal with ozone therapy and dog cancer?
First of all, what is ozone anyway? Ozone is a gas that can be administered after it is dissolved in liquid, most commonly either IV or as an enema. It is a powerful oxidant.
In cancer, at least two points about oxidation are important. First, oxidation is the process that creates harmful free radicals (reactive oxygen and nitrogen) when the cell cannot eliminate them. Excess free radicals hurts cells (damages the DNA, lipid, protein and more).
Second, the body has ways of combating free radicals naturally (dietary antioxidants, enzymes, pH buffers and more). When the body takes in an oxidant like ozone, the body will crank up it’s natural defenses against the damage caused by the oxidant.
Cancer cells have a tendency to produce lots of free radicals normally. That’s actually a common theme in different cancer types. Their defenses against free radical accumulation are low. Thus, they are running on high gear, producing a lot of free radicals, but are living dangerously since they can barely neutralize their own free radical production.
This is where ozone comes in. There is some evidence that it kills cancer cells in the test tube (see article), which is nice, but lots of things do that. Ozone increases the free radical production in the cancer cells, and these free radicals are toxic to the cancer cell.
The problem is this: often something will kill a cancer cell in the lab but not in the body. A cancer in a petri dish in not a cancer in a dog.
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Unfortunately, there was no survival advantage when ozone was actually studied in cancer patients, as you can see. But it did seem to help with side effects from chemo and made the patients feel a bit better. The reason why this occurred seems to be that the ozone therapy boosted the body’s natural antioxidant defense systems. This is kind of like an immunization…a little of the bad stuff in the body boosts its defense.
A kind of neat fact is that ozone, dissolved as a liquid, does kill germs very effectively when applied directly to them. Inhaled ozone is toxic to the surface of the lungs.
What’s the take home message? Basically, I’m not excited about it for dogs with cancer. The pro-oxidant effects do not seem to kill tumors in the body, and these effects initially may not be all that healthy for the body (prior to when the body recovers with it’s own antioxidant surge). Plus, there’s cost and availability issues.
Best to all,
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.
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