Cancer Research in Golden Retrievers Sheds Light on the Disease in Hum
Cancer is a common disease among retrievers, particularly golden retrievers who experts claim have cancer rates in approximately 75% of all golden retrievers.
Which is why a very ambitious research project that is looking at information from over 3,000 purebred golden retrievers promises to bring information many seek, even information that could lead to treatment and cure of cancer in humans.
The Golden Retriever Lifetime Study is a $32 million research project that looks at goldens enrolled before they were two-years-old, and who will be tracked until their deaths, whenever that may be. The researchers are from Colorado State University and the Morris Animal Foundation, and they are looking at information from animals around the country, including benign things like where animals sleep and how often they get their teeth brushed.
The information is being gathered in real-time in order to help guide researchers into further areas of study and what they may have missed in other studies. Lead investigator Rodney Page is a veterinary oncologist and the director of the Colorado State Flint Animal Cancer Center. He says they are basically analyzing everything they can over the dogs’ lives to look for risk factors that may be easily changed.
Page says that the research could lead to information about cancer in other breeds, and even in humans, particularly those who often die of mast cell tumors, bone cancer, lymphoma or hemangiosarcoma. Goldens are a good study subject as they are such a popular breed in the United States, and are typically valued as family members who live right along humans in their lifestyles.
I am biased, as I am a Golden mama myself, and some of the Goldens in this study are members from my local golden retriever rescue organization! Late last year, our dog was diagnosed with cancer, and though it turned out to not to be, there is a high probability that cancer still will be the reason she passes. For that, I am thankful this research exists.
The study, which began in 2012, has not necessarily yielded any huge breakthroughs yet, though the oldest dogs in the study are seven and would just start to be getting to the typical age that traditional ailments and cancers appear. That said, the researchers have learned that at least 40% of the goldens swim each week, one in four eats grass and one in five sleeps in bed with their owners.
Here’s hoping that as the study continues, more is found and these sweet animals get back to the lifespans they once had, which was 15 to 17 years in the late ’90s and early 2000s. It currently sits at 10 to 12 years.
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