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Breast Cancer in Animals

Breast Cancer in Animals

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Published by: Elisabeth Rieping (1950 - 2009) on Feb 17, 2010
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Breast Cancer and Early Contact with Bovine Milk Breast Cancer in Animals

Stand / Letzte Aktualisierung durch Elisabeth Rieping 2004/07/27

While in wild animals breast cancer seems to be a rare disease, it is not uncommon in zoo and domestic animals. Especially cats and dogs very often develop breast cancer [i],[ii]. If it is a cow’s milk born disease this is not surprising as pet animals often serve a infant substituts and get milk, especially if they are young. If one talks with people breeding this animals they always give the advice that one should not do it, because the animals get diarrhoe and other problems. Obviously these problems are well

Milk adapted for raising young cats.

known, because feeding pets, especially young ones, with milk products is common. Zoo animals too, are often raised with cow’s milk mixtures, if their captured mothers do not show appropiate behavior to the infant and there is is no other way to bring it up. An other animal developing breast cancer seems to be mus domesticus, the house mouse which likes human food and waste and tries to get it, without being domesticated. On the other hand there is an animal known to lack breast cancer. It is the cow. If one looks in books on buatric (cow’s) disease, the similarity of the content to books on women’s disease is obvious. So the lack of mammary neoplasms in cows was always found to be surprising. It is not so surprising if one speculates that the human breast cancer may be a disease which is transmitted by a cow’milk born virus.

Milk for raising infant dogs
As mentioned before, viruses often do not cause dangerous disease in their long term hosts. If they did, this would be deleterious to themselves depriving the virus of its home and place to multiply. So evolution works in favor of a benign outcome of infections. But if by chance the virus finds entrance to a new species or race to which it is not yet adapted, the before benign agent may cause dangerous disease. That’s what we see now occurring after the infection of humans by the Human Immundefiency Viruses HIV. In their original simian host this virus cannot become connected with any harm. But in humans, which they infected only recently, they cause deadly disease in nearly every infected individual. An animal, to my knowlegde new to the human household, is the hedgehog. People take little hedgehogs out of the garden because they want to help it to survive the winter. The rational behind is the thought that some infant hedgehogs are to small to manage the situation themselves. There are also clubs for this hedgehog helpers which warn on their homepage to give milk to the animals. Probably because it is done so often. Actually, on the first homepage of hedgehog helpers I visited, besides the warning against using milk as food, I saw a picture with a just rescued baby hedgehog clinging to a typical baby bottle filled with white stuff looking like milk. Probably because this animal was not perceived as a hedgehog but as a baby hedgehog

In the light of this new habit I was not surprised to find two papers on mammary carcinomas in hedgehogs[iii],[iv].

An infant animal raised by humans probably not with milk of its own species. In this way it may catch new, latent diseases. The animals raised here in Kenya are raised in captivity because their mothers are dead. It is planned that they go back to wilderness as adults. By this way they may introduce a hole bunch of bovine and human infectious agents to the wild elefant population. [i] Casey HW, Giles RC, Kwapien RP. Mammary neoplasia in animals: pathologic aspects and the effects of contraceptive steroids. Recent Results Cancer Res 66: 129-60. [ii] Novasad CA Principles of treatment for mammary gland tumors. Clin Tech Small Anim Pract 18 : 107-9, 2003 [iii] Raymond JT, GernerM. Mammary gland tumors in captive African hedgehogs. J Wildl Dis 36: 405-8. [iv] Wellehan JF, Southhorn E, Smith DA, Taylor WM. Surgical removal of a mammary adenocarcinoma and a granulos cell tumor in an African pygmy hedgehog. Permalink Archive Library of Congress: http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://www.erieping.de/cear6.htm

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