Pets Improve Health, Really Are Man’s Best Friend:
In our search for increasingly better health, we sometimes go to odd-extremes.
Some of those destinations can seem pretty far away,
But more-strangely, many may turn out to be right beside you,
In a form you never even expected.
A few Swedish researchers found in some cases, that strange form is the 4-legged furry little blighter we call “Man’s Best Friend”.
And in this video, Seeker/DNews gets into all of it; -almost…
Looking For Health In All The Furriest Places:
For 12 years a Swedish research team followed 3.5 million people between the ages of 40 and 80,
None of whom had cardiovascular disease before the experiment.
And after ruling-out as many different other factors as they could,
The researchers found that the average person they studied had a 20% lower risk of mortality and a 23% lower rate of cardiovascular disease,
-If they owned a dog.
(nothing in this study on cats, btw.)
It Gets Even Better:
Yet still better than that, the effects were even greater for the singles-component of the study subjects.
They had a 30% lower risk of mortality and a 33% reduction in the rate of cardiovascular disease.
The rate of cardiovascular-disease’s big killer, heart-attacks, was even 11% lower for the singles crowd, too.
This is a pretty big deal, as people living alone are typically at-risk for these problems More than those not living alone.
For some reason, dogs were also shown to increase the strength of their owners’ immune-systems.
Their Immune-Systems Looked Better, Too:
The improvement in immune-systems were even more pronounced for dogs like retrievers.
But there are some potential factors that could mitigate the results of the study.
For example, in the Immune category.
Yes, a dog can confer immune-benefits to its owners by virtue of the microbes living in them and on them.
This can also happen as a result of dogs’ nature to go outside, dig around, get a little dirty, and pick up all kinds of microbes from the soil, etc. and then bring them into the house.
But Other Studies Suggest Confounding Factors:
However, this might just be down to the fact that bigger dogs require more exercise,
Thus boosting the immune-systems of the 2-legged friends they drag around, via cardiovascular activity alone.
Also, there is very likely some correlation between the type of person and the type of dog they choose.
Sedentary apartment-dwellers may pick the smallest breeds that also require the shortest walks.
And people who are already more active might pick pets to match their personality, thus associating already-better health with dog-ownership.
The RAND Study Disagrees With The Swedish One:
And to that end: Seeker cites another study by the RAND corporation that says nearly the opposite of the Swedish study.
When they did the work, and allegedly controlled for more variables, their work showed that people who had dogs were no healthier than average.
This may seem to suggest the “Guilt By Association” / Selection-Bias theory is true.
And this is where Seeker leaves us, with two studies at-odds.
But Here’s Where They Both Fail. -Especially The RAND Analysis:
As we’ve told you before in The Hygiene Hypothesis,
Any time you stop being quite so hermetically-sealed & perfectly clean, and get some exposure to some non-serious microbes, you are making yourself healthier.
You are also lowering your risk for Auto-Immune disease and chronic inflammation.
There is simply NO way you can own a dog without being exposed to some kind of extra microbes from that animal.
And it is very nearly a certainty they’ll help rather than hurt.
The same is almost as true of a Cat, because they’re more indoorsy and hygienic.
Stress-Induced Inflammation & Cardio-Disease Is A Killer:
Also, there is an increasingly-well-established link between stress, inflammation, and cardiovascular-disease of all types, including heart-attack.
This looks like it’s occurring as a result of endotoxins, LDL cholesterol, and unnecessary-excesses of the big stress-hormone, Cortisol.
It’s also the reason why stress is a killer and that being around unreasonable, irrationally-stressful people is also a killer.
On that note, it has also been shown that the presence of pets is frequently-calming,
Dogs, Cats, & Other Pets Improve Health By Reducing Stress:
Especially those that do not destroy the furniture.
And that they both cause your Heart-Rate & Cortisol to go down, and your Oxytocin and Serotonin to increase.
Both of these factors will increase a person’s general and cardiovascular health.
So honestly, the RAND corporation gave it the old college try.
But I wouldn’t go around believing them on this one.
There are too many previously-demonstrated factors working in the favor of pet ownership.
The Swedes Are Probably Right:
[no this message is not brought to you by the owners of Animal Planet, or the pet food chamber of commerce]
So if you’re going to pick between the two, especially for charming, well-behaved pets,
I would believe the Swedish study every single time.
Stay furry my friends, and let your dogs, cats, or other pets work their magic and make you healthier every day…
Photo/Video Credits: Video by Seeker, Photo “Dog with sunglasses” by Cameron Gaut
• Source: Uppsala University
• Source Studies:
• ScientificReports – Dog ownership and the risk of cardiovascular disease and death – a nationwide cohort study
• Anthrozoos – RAND, A Propensity-Score-Weighted Population-Based Study of the Health Benefits of Dogs and Cats for Children