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C2002-06

Dear Christopher Cat

My cat has lymphosarcoma.  What causes this type of cancer?  My vet said cats who test positive for the leukemia virus are at increased risk of lymphosarcoma, but she’s negative for leukemia virus.

Christopher Responds

Lymphosarcoma (LSA), also called lymphoma, is the most common cancer in cats.  It undoubtedly has many causes, most of which we haven’t identified yet. 

But researchers recently discovered one cause that is controllable: cigarette smoking.

Cats who live in homes where someone smokes are 2.4 times more likely to develop LSA than cats who live in smoke-free homes.

Risk increases with the number of smokers (two smokers increases the risk to 4.1 times normal), the number of cigarettes they smoke, and the duration of time the cat has been exposed to second-hand smoke.

Cats inhale smoke and ingest the toxins when they groom themselves, and most cats are inside the house more hours per day than their people. 

If you smoke, show your pets you love them by smoking outside or giving up cigarettes altogether.

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