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Pet ownership and risk of dying from cancer: observation from a nationally representative cohort

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We longitudinally examined the relationship between pet ownership and risk of dying from cancer in a nationally representative cohort of 13,725 adults in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1988–1994. The vital status was followed through 31 December 2010. Women who owned pets (any type) presented one-year shorter survival time (15.88 years) than non-pet owner (16.83 years). A larger difference of survival time was particularly seen in bird owners (13.01 years) compared to non-bird owners (16.82 years). After adjusting for potential confounders, hazard ratio (HR) of dying from cancer associated with any type of pets was 1.08 (95% CI = 0.77–1.50) for men and 1.40 (1.01–1.93) for women. The association in women was presumably driven by owning birds [HR 2.41 (1.34–4.31)] or cats [HR 1.48 (0.97–2.24)]. Keeping birds and cats in the household was associated with an increased risk of dying from cancer, especially in women.
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Keywords: Cancer; NHANES; follow-up studies; mortality; pet ownership

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Epidemiology, Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health, Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, GA, USA 2: Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health, Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, GA, USA 3: Department of Radiation Oncology, Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, Columbus, OH, USA 4: Department of Community Medicine, Mercer University School of Medicine, Macon, GA, USA

Publication date: January 2, 2020

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