Pet ownership and childhood acute leukemia (USA and Canada)

A. R. Swensen, J. A. Ross, X. O. Shu, G. H. Reaman, M. Steinbuch, L. L. Robison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Objectives: For more than three decades there has been speculation regarding a possible role of zoonotic diseases in the development of human leukemia. This study investigated the potential relationship between exposure to pets and the development of childhood leukemia. Methods: Data from 2359 cases of acute leukemia from two large case-control studies were analyzed. Cases were individually matched to population controls on telephone exchange, age, and race. Conditional logistic regression was used to estimate odds ratios (OR) associated with pet ownership. Results: Overall, there was no association between pet ownership (either "any pet", dog, or cat) and childhood acute leukemia (ORany pet: = 1.01, 95% CI 0.89-1.2). Additionally, no relationship was found between exposure to an ill pet and childhood leukemia. Conclusion: The results of this analysis suggest that pet ownership (healthy or sick) is unrelated to an increased risk of childhood leukemia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)301-303
Number of pages3
JournalCancer Causes and Control
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2001

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Children's Cancer Research Fund, training grant number T32 090607 (A.R.S.) from the National Institutes of Health, and grant numbers CA42479, CA49450, CA58051, and CA13539 (Children's Cancer Group master grant) from the National Cancer Institute. Informed consent was obtained from all participants and the interviews were conducted with the approval of local institutional human subject review boards in accord with an assurance filed with and approved by the US Department of Health and Human Services.


  • Child
  • Leukemia
  • Pets


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