Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2016 Sep;25(9):1311-6. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-16-0218. Epub 2016 Jun 30.

Pet Ownership and Cancer Risk in the Women's Health Initiative.

Author information

  • 1Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, Department of Health Promotion Sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona.
  • 2University of Arizona College of Medicine-Tucson, Tucson, Arizona.
  • 3University of Arizona Cancer Center, Tucson, Arizona.
  • 4Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.
  • 5Department of Nutrition Sciences, Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
  • 6Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor, UCLA Medical Center, Torrance, California.
  • 7Department of Medicine, Stanford Prevention Research Center, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California.
  • 8Washington Cancer Institute, Washington Hospital Center, Washington, DC.
  • 9Department of Epidemiology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
  • 10Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, Department of Health Promotion Sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona.



Pet ownership and cancer are both highly prevalent in the United States. Evidence suggests that associations may exist between this potentially modifiable factor and cancer prevention, though studies are sparse. The present report examined whether pet ownership (dog, cat, or bird) is associated with lower risk for total cancer and site-specific obesity-related cancers.


This was a prospective analysis of 123,560 participants (20,981 dog owners; 19,288 cat owners; 1,338 bird owners; and 81,953 non-pet owners) enrolled in the Women's Health Initiative observational study and clinical trials. Cox proportional hazards models were used to estimate HR and 95% confidence intervals for the association between pet ownership and cancer, adjusted for potential confounders.


There were no significant relationships between ownership of a dog, cat, or bird and incidence of cancer overall. When site-specific cancers were examined, no associations were observed after adjustment for multiple comparisons.


Pet ownership had no association with overall cancer incidence.


This is the first large epidemiologic study to date to explore relationships between pet ownership and cancer risk, as well as associated risks for individual cancer types. This study requires replication in other sizable, diverse cohorts. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev; 25(9); 1311-6. ©2016 AACR.

[Available on 2017-09-01]
[PubMed - in process]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire
    Loading ...
    Support Center