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Preventing Cancer: Food     

Dr. Al Townshend

When it comes to cancer prevention, the foods, treats, and supplements we fed to our pets can have a tremendous impact on the long-term health of our beloved canine and feline companions. Hippocrates, the Father of Modern-Medicine, said it over two thousand years ago, “Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food.”

The best nutrition begins by making sure a pet’s diet includes not just basic, minimum levels of all the necessary nutrients, but optimum or ideal amounts that support a healthy immune system and a long, healthy life.

Domestic dogs and cats have evolved primarily as carnivores that do best when their food provides highly-digestible, protein-focused, biologically approximate, natural nutrition. While the domestic dog and cat can utilize carbohydrates, they have no nutritional requirement for them to be in the diet. They can convert protein and fat to the carbohydrate glucose, which is easily utilized by the body.

Too many carbohydrates can encourage weight gain and obesity. Long term excess weight encourages age-related diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, arthritis, heart and kidney disease, and even cancer.

The best recipes for pets should be focused in two areas, what to feed, and the equally important category of what not to feed.

What to Feed

The foods we feed our pets should provide optimum nutrition and not just the minimum necessary for their growth and maintenance. The specific life-stage and breed-type of the pet are also important considerations. 

Foods should be as natural as possible to avoid chemicals and artificial substances known to increase cancer risk.

Essential fats such as Omega 6 and 3 fatty acids in the proper ratio to one another can enhance the immune system, reduce inflammation (which is known to encourage the development of cancer), and are essential for good skin and hair-coat (the skin is the number one defense system of the body).

Adding more Omega 3 fats to the recipe from sources like fish oils can enhance the ratio and better support the body.

Probiotics, or the “good bacteria,” that are essential for proper digestion, are also a critical component of the immune system. Research has uncovered the potential benefits of probiotics in preventing and treating some forms of cancer.

Glucosamine, Chondroitin, and MSM are typically used to reduce the discomfort associated with arthritis. They are powerful, natural anti-inflammatory supplements, and inflammation is a known cause of cancer development.

Balanced Vitamin and Mineral supplements are commonly used to assure a pet has optimum levels that promote health and prevention of chronic disease, including cancer. 

Natural Antioxidants are substances that interact and neutralize free-radicals, which have the potential to damage cell structure, including DNA. They have been shown to slow the aging process and support the immune system. 

Beta-carotene and lycopene are examples of natural antioxidants. Fruits and vegetables contain significant levels of antioxidants.

Herbs and Spices contain phytochemicals known to support the immune system, reduce inflammation, and slow the aging process. Small amounts of turmeric, garlic, ginger, and cayenne pepper included in the diet can have long term benefits.

What Not to Feed

Diets high in carbohydrates can encourage weight gain and obesity, which are known to increase the risk of cancer.

There are many known, and sometimes hidden carcinogens in commercially prepared pet foods, Manufacturers of the foods in all Pet Planet stores are held to a high level of transparency. 

Chemical preservatives such as BHT, BHA, and ethoxyquin are known carcinogens. They have been used to preserve pet food and sometimes hidden in certain ingredients used in pet foods.

Aflatoxins are a family of toxins produced by certain fungi that are found on crops such as corn, wheat, and soy raised or stored under certain conditions. They are highly carcinogenic contaminates most common in less expensive, high carbohydrate recipes, with poor quality control.

Farming chemicals such as glyphosates (Roundup) and pesticides used in the growing of grains can be hidden in the ingredients without proper transparency.

Acrylamides are substances produced using high temperature in the production of pet foods and their ingredients.

Processed meats sometimes used as a treat or reward for pets are high in acrylamides and nitrites, which are carcinogenic. 

To avoid the potential risk of cancer from what we feed our pets, it is essential to choose trusted foods and supplements that provide optimum nutrition from natural ingredients and are free of chemical substances. 


Additional Resources

Yet Another Lurking Link Between Foods and Cancer

Aflatoxin Contaminated Pet Food

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