Akita cancer - gambling with a loaded die

"Your Akita has cancer" is devastating news that points to a tainted living environment. This article describes the structure and causes of Akita cancer.

Table of Contents

Akita cancer structure and causes

In 1818, Mary Shelley wrote “Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus”, a story about a scientist who stitches body parts together to discover the secret of life. His creature looks monstrous but is docile and curious, reading classical literature and learning poetry. However, it can get enraged when challenged or provoked, threatening to destroy everything in its path.

That turns out to be the best possible description of cancer.

Akita cancer naming

Understanding Akita cancer names requires some knowledge of Greek and Latin.

The word “cancer” comes from Greek for “crab”. This is because it looks like a crab — a large, rounded swelling with limb-like veins coming out of it.

The word “tumor” comes from Latin for “swelling”. A tumor close to the skin can be touched, giving the impression of a lump.

Cancer and tumor are used interchangeably but the former is the disease and the latter is a physical sign of it. One subtle, implied difference is that “cancer” refers to the malignant and “tumor” to the benign form of the disease.

Depending on which tissues it affects, cancer has a specific name. In general, this name is a mix of shorthand Greek and Latin words. On occasion, cancer is named after the researcher who first discovered it.

Akita cancer structure

Body tissues are tightly interwoven into specialized organs. A swelling that appears in one organ behaves in one of two ways — it remains contained or the disorder that caused the swelling spreads to other tissues.

In medical terms, the two types are respectively called “benign” and “malignant” tumors. Cells in a benign tumor are abnormal but don’t invade other organs or tissues; malignant tumors aggressively spread.

Another way they’re called is “adenoma” (from ancient Greek ἀδήν (adḗn), and Latin (gland).

for “gland-like”) and “carcinoma”. An adenoma either appears from a gland or looks like a gland, which explains how the disorder got contained. A carcinoma can look however it wants.

The two tumor types are equivalent to Frankenstein’s monster being calm and getting angry. It has a mind of its own and an agenda that is incomprehensible to a rational observer. If possible, it’s best to not rely on its good graces and get it under control.

Benign tumors can turn malignant for no apparent reason but most often do damage via steady pressure on nearby organs. Malignant tumors spread through metastasis, a process where they split off and travel through the bloodstream.

Another important difference is that benign tumors don’t manipulate nearby tissues; malignant tumors do, growing new blood vessels to sap energy from nearby organs.

A veterinarian that detects cancer in Akita will first determine if it’s a benign or malignant tumor. Benign tumors should be removed at first convenience; malignant tumors must be subdued using all means available.

Akita cancer progression

Cancer’s severity is indicated by its stage number. In the case of Akita lymphoma, which attacks the lymph nodes (“lymph” is Latin for “clear water”), there are five stages:

  • Stage 1 — Localized tumor
  • Stage 2 — Multiple localized tumors on one half of the body
  • Stage 3 — Multiple localized tumors on both halves of the body
  • Stage 4 — Tumors have also spread to the liver and/or the spleen
  • Stage 5 — Tumors have also spread to the bone marrow and/or nervous system

The later the stage, the worse the prognosis. Some Akita cancer types may have more and others fewer stages, but the conclusion is always the same — pain and slow wasting.

Akita cancer causes

DNA is the body’s blueprint for repair, which includes making new cells. Damage to the DNA can be repaired or safely ignored up to a point. For example, the body can order the defective cells to shut down.

If there’s too much DNA damage, there’s a risk of it becoming a permanent part of the body. This is called a “mutation”, Latin for “a turn for the worse”.

It’s when the damage accumulates on two fundamental gene groups — cell division and tumor suppressor genes — that a tumor can appear. These abnormal cells go rogue and refuse to die, making them effectively immortal.

Anything can damage the DNA but it’s the highly reactive substances that cause the most damage. One of them is oxygen.


Breathing is enough to cause DNA damage. The body needs oxygen, using its volatile nature to fire up the tiny furnaces that produce energy in cells. However, if it isn’t tightly controlled, this reaction can run rampant. If the body can’t remedy the damage, oxygen starts a chain reaction, damaging DNA in its path to cause DNA lesions.

The scientific term for fire is “oxidation”; when it happens slowly, we call it “rusting”. If you’ve ever observed a burning or rusting object, you’ve noticed it falling apart. In layman terms, DNA lesions represent it catching fire or rusting. This can be sped up, slowed down, or reversed by the presence of other substances.

The study of cancer causes then becomes the study of how substances affect the DNA. In the case of oxygen, the body uses antioxidants to keep it in check. These natural substances, such as vitamins and saturated fats, act as a shield in the face of danger to the DNA.


Radiation is greatly feared but poorly understood. The Sun is a huge source of energy and radioactive rays. Every living thing on Earth is bathing in Sun’s radiation but that’s not enough for DNA lesions or mutations. Every Akita on Earth is alive because its ancestors evolved to resist DNA damage from the Sun.

The danger is drastically greater when directly dealing with radioactive substances. Touching, inhaling, or ingesting something that produces radiation is far more dangerous and often deadly. Let’s take radon for example.


Radon is a noble but deadly radioactive gas that readily settles. It has no odor, color, or smell, appearing as a byproduct of thorium and uranium decay in the soil. In homes, radon can seep into the basement and then into the living space through tiny cracks in the foundation and the walls.

Every 4 days, radon loses half of its radioactivity, meaning there’s only 1% of radon left in a month. Inhalation of concentrated radon is a major cause of lung cancer. The solution is doing a radon test in the home and then installing a basement vent. If that’s not possible, regularly airing all living spaces is a good idea.

Iodine is another fine example. If radioactive iodine is ingested, the body thinks it’s regular iodine and uses it in the thyroid gland, causing thyroid cancer. However, if there’s enough regular iodine in the thyroid gland, the body will flush out the radioactive one.

Nuclear fallout

The sight of a nuclear missile exploding is enough to send shivers down the human’s and Akita’s spine, but there’s no worry if the danger is understood. The best idea would be to evacuate to a safe place and then act based on which radioactive elements were scattered.

Each radioactive element has a half-life, which is the duration after which half of it has decayed. For radon, we saw that is 4 days; for other elements, that can be thousands of years. The shorter the half-life, the more immediate the danger from it.

After the explosion, radioactive dust would float in the air and slowly settle on everything over the next weeks. Touching, inhaling, or ingesting this dust could easily cause mutations and cancer. This dust would be carried by the wind as well.

So, a safety protocol for an Akita in case of a nuclear war would be:

  • Moving upwind from the blast zone
  • Staying indoors until the majority of radiation has dissipated (say, a month)
  • Wearing a tight-fitting raincoat when outside
  • Wearing a breath filter (perhaps a jury-rigged muzzle) when outside
  • Wearing goggles and shoes when outside
  • Shower of all that equipment and the body with clean water after walks
  • Avoid food grown in the affected soil (if there’s no other option, thorough washing may help)

Still, nuclear war isn’t in the top 100 Akita cancer causes. If there were such a list, all 100 places would be taken by — chemicals.

Chemical pollutants

Exposure to chemical pollutants is another way DNA can be damaged. These include:

  • Wood preservatives
  • Food additives
  • Medications or their components
  • Pesticides, insecticides, and herbicides
  • Paints and solvents

Unlike a nuclear explosion, which humans and Akitas alike can see, hear, and run away from, chemicals cause cancer quietly. To understand why there are so many of them, look at the world from a typical product manufacturer’s perspective.

How come there are so many of them?

A typical product manufacturer wants to make money without breaking the law. To make money, the product needs to be cheap and provide satisfactory quality. To not break the law, the product must not use known harmful chemicals.

The first problem is that the longer an ingredient is on the market, the higher its price. The second problem is that researching replacement ingredients costs a lot of money. If one product manufacturer introduces a new ingredient to the market, all competition starts using it to make money before it becomes too expensive.

Each new ingredient must undergo safety research before entering the market, but that’s rarely a long-term study. It might take 50 years before regulatory agencies discover an ingredient causes cancer, at which point the damage is already done.

In essence, it was the consumers that served as guinea pigs in a long-term study. Food additives in food are notoriously susceptible to this effect, in particular sugars, salts, and oils.

Race to the bottom

Let’s say a reputable company produces 100% beef food for Akitas. A competing company appears with a similar product, except its 99% beef with 1% soy. This translates into a slightly cheaper product.

Tests on Akitas show they love this 99% beef just the same. Besides, soy is not illegal, so it must be healthy for Akitas, right?

More competitor companies appear and they all copy one another. Each makes a slightly degraded version of the product, such as by adding cellulose (literally sawdust). It is also not illegal.

Too much soy and sawdust make the food dry. The competitors add oils, but not nutritious oils since they are too expensive. Instead, they are cheap substitutes, such as palm oil.

This process, termed “race to the bottom”, produces food that has 10, 15, or 20% beef. The rest are fillers, additives to make it not fall apart, and a carefully calculated mix of sugars, salts, and oils to make it addictive. By the time this “beef product” ends up in your Akita’s bowl, it’s more fitting to call it “Frankenstein monster’s liver”.

All the while, the reputable company keeps making 100% beef food for Akitas. That product sits in plain packaging in the corner; the reputable company can’t afford fancy wrapping or advertising.

Cleansing the environment

Race to the bottom happens with all products: toys, carpets, pesticides, etc. The mindset that prompts the Akita owner to buy these shoddy products is the real cause of chemical-induced Akita cancer.

For example, shoddy carpets made with toxic chemicals can release fumes that cause cancer. An Akita that likes laying on the carpet got cancer? There you go.

The truly chaotic part of all this chemical inundation is that some chemicals aren’t nearly as dangerous on their own. It’s when the Akita gets exposed to several of them at once that they damage its DNA. That combined effect explains how so many of these chemicals can slip through safety testing.

In theory, if an Akita gets cancer from a product, the owner can sue the manufacturer. There is one problem — the owner has to prove the product caused cancer. Not even mega-corporations can afford that kind of research.

The government is slow to react because companies doing their own thing leads to economic growth. Any hasty restriction of potentially harmful chemicals can be neutered by lobbying or skirted around.

That leaves you, the Akita owner. The responsibility for your Akita’s health is in your hands. To cleanse Akita’s environment of shoddy products, do the following:

  • Avoid the cheapest or the most advertised products
  • Buy from manufacturers who use time-tested ingredients and methods
  • Get involved in the production of food for the Akita

The food is the most important part. Your Akita’s food should be produced by people you know and trust. It should travel the shortest distance from the manufacturing site to the Akita’s bowl. The more hands it goes through, the higher the chance it gets tainted.

Akitas evolved from wolf scavengers following humans around and feeding on scraps. We created a primal bond with Akitas by hunting food for them. You can recreate the same bond only by getting actively involved in finding food for your Akita.

Estimating Akita cancer risk

Mere exposure to radon or a toxic chemical is not enough to cause cancer. Some factors that influence whether an Akita gets cancer are:

  • Overall fitness (chronic disease increases risk)
  • The exposed body part (mucous membranes are the most vulnerable)
  • Chemical concentration (greater is worse)
  • Length of exposure (longer is worse)

The study of Akita cancer risk is speculative, grim math. For example, 25% of female Akitas and 16% male Akitas will die of cancer. The difference appears to be due to chemical pollutants that mimic female Akita hormones.

Data on cancer in Akitas shows that, compared to the average human, they have a higher risk for developing cancer in certain body parts. The data is as follows:

  • 100% higher risk of leukemia
  • 300% higher risk of breast cancer
  • 700% higher risk of bone cancer
  • 3,400% higher risk of skin cancer

That last number has at least a partial explanation. Tick and flea shampoos were found to double the risk of abnormal skin tissue growth in Akitas.

Other than that, the best we have are guesstimates since Akita cancer research is woefully underfunded. The good news is that human and dog cancers seem to share the same pathways; human cancer research is much richer.

Learning from farmers’ cancer

Study of cancer incidence in human farmers shows these organs are the most susceptible:

  • Lips
  • Skin
  • Brain
  • Prostate

Chemicals in fumes, dust, and solvents that touch the skin seep into the body. They can also be introduced through contaminated food and water. If the body can’t neutralize them, they accumulate in organs.

Cancer risk from exposure depends on the concentration but does not grow linearly with it. If one drop of a solvent touching the skin increases cancer risk by 1%, two drops may increase it by 2,000%, and three by 50,000%. Exposure length works the same way — skin contact with one drop of solvent for one second may still increase cancer risk by just 1%, but one hour may be a 10,000% increase.

These numbers multiply, which is what makes cancer so dangerous. Instead of being a one-in-a-million occurrence, cancer has become a common ailment in Akitas. You must not rely on chance for your Akita’s well-being.

Chronic exposure of vulnerable body parts to a lot of any carcinogen, such as the solvent, will eventually cause cancer. When explained that way, our farmers could do this to minimize the risk:

  • Use protective equipment
  • Regularly wash face, hands, and the protective equipment
  • Ventilate work areas

Just like we saw with the radioactive fallout safety protocol, minimizing exposure is the best possible strategy. Removing sources of pollution in the environment and simple personal hygiene make the exposure amount and length negligible. That works for farmers and Akitas.


In Mary Shelley’s story, the scientist is appalled and delighted by giving life to something that should not exist. The monster finally corners him and orders him to make another creature, saying, “You are my creator, but I am your master; obey!”

Her story is a prophetic one, revealing the dangers of uncontrolled science. The scientist in her story is obsessed with understanding and subduing nature, no matter the consequences, the same as a real scientist. In reality and fiction, such science produces a rampaging monster that takes over.

Cancer may hold the secret to life itself, lighting the path to immortality. However, if we don’t heed Mary Shelley’s story, it is likely we will veer off the path and into darkness. That is the kind of existence we would certainly not appreciate.

Further Reading

The Akita Inu — Breed Characteristics

The iconic Akita dog is first recognized by its curled-up tail, pointed ears and fluffy fur. It has an imposing size but also a noble, calm demeanor that can still quickly turn sour if it’s agitated. It’s one of the most impressive dog breeds, carrying in itself the spirit of ancient Japan.

Read More »

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Akita Joints And Spine Problems

A limping Akita is a sad sight to behold. It seems to need help but suddenly the limp disappears and the Akita acts fine. This is a warning sign that trouble is afoot and the Akita is about to develop an issue with its joints, spine or both. Here is an overview of joint and spine problems in Akita, with probable causes and suggested remedies.

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Communicable Diseases In Akita

Akitas might not like to mingle but they can still catch communicable diseases just like any dog breed that does. These diseases quickly spread through a litter, especially an unvaccinated one, even without physical contact; all it takes is an infected bowl, toy, or blanket to spread the disease.

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Eye Health Of The Akita Inu

Akita eye problems always happen because of a nutritional deficiency and a congenital defect. Diet fortified with nutrients and early eye exams are the simplest way to detect and manage eye problems in Akita

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