Dogs — and women — live longer with their ovaries than without

December 1, 2009 at 9:38 pm Leave a comment

bigstockphoto_Cute_Rottweiler_1498727There’s no arguing with the animal population control benefits of spaying and neutering pet dogs. The health benefits, though, are a somewhat harder case to make. It’s not that there are none — there are. It’s that the more research that’s done, the more the risks seem to equal or outweigh those benefits.

In addition to the then-comprehensive look at the benefits and risks of surgical sterilization of pet cats and dogs that was published in 2008 in the Journal of the American Veterinary Association, research out of Purdue University is suggesting that female dogs and, interestingly, female humans, live longer if they keep their ovaries:

This year, hundreds of thousands of women and pet dogs will undergo a hysterectomy and have their ovaries removed along with their uterus. Now, two independent research studies looking at longevity may challenge almost four decades of standard operating procedures used in women and in pets.

Research published Tuesday (Dec. 1) shows female dogs that keep their ovaries longer also live longer. The study, exploring the factors that favor successful aging in pet dogs, was conducted by a research team led by David J. Waters, a doctor of veterinary medicine.

Waters’ work is the first investigation to look for a link between retaining ovaries and reaching exceptional longevity in mammals. Waters is executive director of the Gerald P. Murphy Cancer Foundation, based at the Purdue Research Park of West Lafayette. The Murphy Foundation is home to the Center for Exceptional Longevity Studies, which tracks the oldest living pet dogs in the United States.

Waters went on to report that the dogs in the study lived 30 percent longer if intact, and that dogs with ovaries until the age of 6 years were four times more likely to have “exceptional longevity” than those female dogs who were spayed the earliest.

It’s not just dogs, though:

The pet dog research published in Aging Cell mirrors the findings of the Nurses’ Health Study published this summer by Dr. William Parker and colleagues from the John Wayne Cancer Institute in Santa Monica, Calif.

Parker’s group studied more than 29,000 women who underwent a hysterectomy for benign uterine disease. The findings showed that the upside of ovary removal – protection against ovarian, uterine and breast cancer – was outweighed by increased mortality from other causes. As a result, longevity was cut short in women who lost their ovaries before the age of 50 compared with those who kept their ovaries for at least 50 years.


Taken together, the emerging message for dogs and women seems to be that when it comes to longevity, it pays to keep your ovaries.

Read the whole story here.…

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