Recent research perks up our ears with another reason for having a dog. From raising daily dopamine levels and reducing stress by providing companionship, to reminding us to stay in shape with daily exercise, man’s faithful best friend has never failed to foster good health. Now, we’re being presented with a rather unorthodox reason to consider owning a furry four-legger: dogs show the capacity to detect thyroid and prostate cancers simply by detecting an atypical scent in human urine.
Still in the nascent stages of culling data, research shows that a highly trained German Shepherd hybrid correctly identified the presence of abnormal endocrine hormones in 30 of 34 samples provided. While not perfect (with an 88% rate of accuracy), this alternative is far less expensive than the typical biopsy procedure of removing tissue from the thyroid. Thyroid cancer tends to target the young population, and threatens more than 60,000 Americans annually. Mixed data shows that over 40% of American households own dogs. Repeatedly positive studies suggest their helpfulness is underestimated.
With this new study, Medical News Today echoes older studies done in Italy and France whose results showed German Shepherds to be able to sniff out signs of prostate cancer with 98% and 90% accuracy respectively, similarly by detecting abnormalities in urine. This is inviting news as although it requires specialized training, detection would require a far less invasive procedure than the standard which includes rectal probing or drawing of blood to measure levels of a specific protein. Dogs do not only cater to the emotional health of their owners; they are developing a reputation as trustworthy medical assistants—as doctors of diagnosis. Charlie Schmidt writing for harvardprostateknowledge.org recalls, “Evidence dating back more than two decades reveals dogs’ abilities to sniff out other malignancies including melanoma, and cancers of the lung and breast.”
The most recent look into preventing thyroid cancer with canines only fortifies the argument for adoption. Imagine what benefits lie undiscovered, if such a newly opened avenue has already uncovered such positive and inviting results.