22 July 2016

HEALTH - Rodney Habib is on Cancer Fighting Mission

Rodney Habib begins his 2016 TEDx talk by saying “Dogs are awesome.”

In his “#DOGS” shirt, with images of dogs on the screen behind him, he is clearly sincere when he says it.

Habib calls himself “a pet nutrition blogger on a mission: to better the way people feed their pets” but it’s clear that he’s doing more than just that.

He has a blog, a twitter stream, an active FaceBook page, a thriving brick-and-mortar pet food store, writes for Dogs Naturally magazine, and now his 2016 TEDx talk is making waves on the internet. 

In November 2014, Habib told Petlynx “my passion still lies in getting the message out to the world. My goal is to personally inspire every pet owner on the planet. I want to change the world, and I will.”

As evidenced in his talk, the change he wants to make is to help pet owners use diet to increase their dogs’ lifespan and reduce the incidence of cancer.  His TEDx talk, and much of his current activism, focuses on improving the diets of pets for this specific purpose, and is the result of years of research following his own dog’s cancer diagnosis.

He states that 1 in 2 dogs will get cancer, and that the Broad Institute has found that while 10% of cancers are caused by genetics, 90% are lifestyle or environmental.

The claim that cancer is so significantly impacted by environment and lifestyle (including diet) is a controversial claim, and contradicts the widely accepted “bad luck hypothesis” of cancer development, but this claim is supported by research.

Habib has a proposal for pet owners, informed by this research and the belief that cancer incidence in dogs can be significantly reduced.

He suggests feeding dogs a diet of unprocessed fresh foods.

Sounds simple, right?

And in many ways, it is.

Habib spoke with both Brian McLaren and Jake Perry, two men who have a track record when it comes to keeping animals alive. McLaren’s dog Maggie died in April of this year at 30 years old, and Perry has held the Guinness World Record for oldest cat alive twice, with two separate cats.

Both men told Habib that they believe their pets’ longevity was due to the fresh unprocessed food they were fed.

This is another claim that may seem controversial but is supported by current and ongoing research. The field of nutrigenomics, which Habib references, is an emerging area of study into how diet and nutrition impacts genes.

Purdue University studied the effect of adding vegetables to a dog’s diet and found a significant reduction in bladder cancer risk, particularly with the addition of green leafy and yellow-orange vegetables.

Habib’s passion and his drive to increase the health and lifespan of companion dogs has pulled him into the spotlight many times over the last few years, and it doesn’t look like he’ll be slowing down anytime soon.

By Tiffany Sostar
Tiffany is a writer, editor, academic, and animal lover who came late to her appreciation of pets. At 18, a rescue pup named Tasha saved her from a depression and she hasn't looked back. She has worked as the canine behaviour program coordinator for the Calgary Humane Society, and was a dog trainer specializing in working with fearful and reactive dogs for many years. She doesn't have any pets right now, but makes up for it by giving her petsitting clients (and any dogs she comes across on her frequent coffee shop adventures) extra snuggles.

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