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Smokers Put Pets At Risk
In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers from Tufts report a link between second-hand smoke and cancer in cats.

No. Grafton, Mass. [08.01.02] -- Providing more scientific evidence about the deadly effects of second-hand smoke, a new study from Tufts reports that cats living in homes with smokers are more than twice as likely than other cats to acquire feline lymphoma cancer. The research - which is the first of its kind - alters current views on the causes of lymphoma in cats and may help scientists better understand the causes of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in humans.

"It has long been believed that the major cause of feline lymphoma was feline leukemia virus," Tufts' Dr. Antony Moore said in a report in Science Daily. "The results of our study clearly indicate that exposure to environmental factors such as second-hand tobacco smoke has devastating consequences for cats because it significantly increases their likelihood of contracting lymphoma."

The evidence - reported by researchers at Tufts' School of Veterinary Medicine and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst - paints a dramatic picture of the risks associated with second-hand smoke.

"They found that, adjusting for age and other factors, cats exposed to secondhand smoke had more than double the risk of acquiring the disease," reported the Associated Press. "In households where they were exposed five years or more, cats had more than triple the risk. In a two-smoker household, the risk went up by a factor of four."

In some cases, cats were at higher risk for cancer than humans living in the same home.

"Exposure levels in cats continuously kept indoors may actually be higher than those of human household members, who often spend extended periods of time outside their homes," reported Science Daily. "Cats become exposed by inhaling the smoke or by digesting it when they groom themselves and lick particulate matter off their fur."

Based on their findings with cats, the Tufts researchers believe their work may provide new evidence that second-hand smoke and lymphoma in humans are linked.

"Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in humans, like feline lymphoma, is a cancer that starts in lymph tissue and can spread to other organs," reported USA Today. "The new study suggests that components of tobacco smoke have a cancerous effect on lymphoid tissue, researchers say."

Moore also hopes the findings provide another compelling reason to quit smoking.

"I think there's a lot of people who might not quit smoking for themselves or their family," Moore said in the Associated Press report, which was published in newspapers around the country. "But they might for their cats."

Online: http://www.tufts.edu/communications/printerversion/080102PetsAndSmoke