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

Document Type


Publication Date

February 2019

Publication Title

International Journal of Environmental Health Research




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.