Incredible Ways Animals Help Us Treat Our Diseases

From the beginning of time, animals have played a major role in humanity’s existence and although their roles have changed slightly, they are no less important than they were thousands of years ago. While many animals were typically used for transportation, tending land or for testing, today, you can find them helping to sniff out cancer and to treat blood pressure issues. Let’s take a look at how animals are helping to treat human diseases. 

1. Dogs + Cancer

Over the years, people began to report cases of their dogs acting strangely around them. Shortly after, many of these pet owners would either begin to feel sick or notice changes in their bodies. After seeking medical attention, quite a few of them would receive a cancer diagnosis. Research into the subject has shown that dogs have an amazing sense of smell (at least 50 times stronger than a human), that allows them to detect subtle changes in the scents around them, like their owners. One study has shown that dogs had a 91% success rate in identifying cancer in samples taken from prostate cancer patients.

 2. Animals + Mental Illness

Within the last decade or so, animals, especially horses, cats, dogs, rabbits and even some birds, have shown to have a positive impact on people with different mental illnesses, like autism, anxiety, and ADHD. According to science this practice works because it presents social opportunities that would not typically occur. For example, a depressed person walking their pet; not only is the exercise shown to alleviate symptoms of depression but being outside has also been shown to help. Getting a pet for a person with autism helps to improve their sensory perception and in those with ADHD, it allows them to learn what having a routine is like. 

3. Zebrafish + Metabolic Disorders

In some parts of the world, like the United States, the majority of the population is either overweight or obese. According to estimates, approximately 160 million people fall into that category. For years, we’ve known that overweight people either underproduce or have decreased sensitivity to leptin, a hormone that inhibits hunger and controls fat stores. They also have decreased sensitivity to insulin, making obesity a metabolic disorder. Fortunately, proteins found in zebrafish have been shown to protect mice against causes of obesity. If or when it is given to humans, it could help to lessen the effects of having a Western diet.

4. Brazilian Viper Venom + High Blood Pressure

The Brazilian pit viper is best known for its deadly venom which is known to cause massive hemorrhaging in those who have been bitten. A little-known fact is that this venom can also be used to treat one of the biggest health conditions in the world… high blood pressure. The venom was used to make the current treatment, ACE inhibitors, for high blood pressure. It works by blocking receptors in the body that tell the blood vessels to constrict or tighten, thereby increasing pressure.

5. Scorpions + Brain Tumors

One animal on the list that many would never expect to help humans is the scorpion. The Leiurus quinquestriatus, also known as the deathstalker, has some of the most lethal toxins of any on the planet. If a person is stung, it usually results in nausea and vomiting, extreme pain, paralysis, and it can result in death. With that being said, it has a chlorotoxin that has been shown to target tumors on the spine and brain and kill them. Unfortunately, it is very risky, and more testing needs to be done before human trials can begin. 


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