New Research Finds Surprising Link Between Pet Ownership and Women’s Health

New research from Georgia Southern University has found that women who own pets may face potential health risks.

For their study, the research team analyzed large data sets from the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey conducted almost 30 years ago. The researchers linked more than 17,000 survey participants with a national data bank of death certificates to ascertain whether each survey participant remained alive.

From there, the researchers conducted four studies to examine the relationship between pet ownership and the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, cancer, lung cancer, and colorectal cancer. For cardiovascular disease, the team found that owning a cat significantly reduced the hazard of dying from stroke, especially in women. There was no impact on owning a dog and cardiovascular outcomes.

For cancer, the researchers found that women, not men, were more likely to die from cancer if they kept a pet at home. Furthermore, the research found that this was trend was more pronounced among owners of birds or cats. Women who owned birds were 2.41 times more likely to die of cancer and those who owned cats were 1.48 times more likely. A similar trend was found for lung cancer and colorectal cancer. There was no association found with having a dog.

The research team plans to continue to look at links between pet ownership and a number of other health conditions in order to explore public health strategies and clinical practices that maximize the benefits of pet ownership and minimize the potential detrimental impacts.

“Any detrimental impact of pet ownership, even too small to be detected statistically, if overlooked, can be translated into a substantial health impact at population level,” said Professor Jian Zhang, who led the studies.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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