After being bombarded with "news" articles telling us that we cat caretakers are more likely to be suicidal, are being manipulated by brain-eating parasites, and are more likely to get cancer, it’s a relief to hear some scientific reports refuting those allegations.
In this week’s issue of Biology Letters, Marion Vittecoq of the Tour du Valat research center and her colleagues informed the journal’s readers that “according to our knowledge, studies that have focused on the link between cancer and cat ownership so far have found either no association at all or a reduced risk of cancer in cat owners." (Emphasis mine.)
What’s the proof? Apparently a National Institutes of Health study by G.J. Tranah et. al. found that cat (and dog) owners had a lower risk of developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Yet another study, published in the journal Pediatrics, showed that babies living in a home with pets had fewer respiratory tract infections than their age-mates who didn’t live with pets. Eija Bergroth and her colleagues say their findings support the idea that living with animals is important in building resistance to respiratory illnesses.
About that “toxoplasmosis-OMG-cat death-feces” thing: Vittecoq and Thomas say there is a positive correlation between T. gondii infection and brain cancer, but Thomas explained -ÔÇô as have the Centers for Disease Control and doctors the world over — that "humans usually get infected through the consumption of undercooked meat ÔÇª or through contact with contaminated soil." T. gondii can also be found in contaminated water, fruit, and veggies.
This Biology Letters issue includes a memo from another group of scientists who take issues with the wrongful scapegoating of cats. Victoria Benson of Oxford University’s Cancer Epidemiology Unit and her research team, who have been gathering huge amounts of data about middle-aged women in the U.K., say they have found zero association with incidence of brain cancer and women living with a cat.
Unfortunately, I’m willing to bet that these articles won’t get nearly as much publicity as the histrionic tabloid headlines and breathless stories about how terrible cats are.
Source: Discovery News