Message Number: FHL11137 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Sukie Crandall
Date: 2010-03-18 18:56:49 UTC
Subject: [ferrethealth] endocrinology: some points that came up in a great private discussion
To: fhl <>

I'm just putting my own portion of the discussion
because I do not not own anyone else's words
and there is a tiny bit added:

You know, maybe I'd better make these points
on the FHL. I think I'll copy my sections there
and put them in quote marks (" ")...

The person spoke about shelter stress and
about pet store stressors.

"So may early life in their first home(s). Those
things are pretty impossible to separate out at
this time to know which may have done what and

The person mentioned a high rate experienced
of adrenal disease and of speaking with others who
also had high rates, and I had a long reply with
multiple points about that.

"One of the most intriguing things about both
insulinoma and adrenal disease is that the rates do
differ among households.

There may be a number of reasons why; things
that can cause endocrinological perturbations
that vary from home to home. Just some things
known from multiple types of endocrinological
studies to be able to cause perturbations in
various species (many not studied in ferrets)
are thing like amounts of darkness/light and the
wavelengths involved (and except for problems
like SAD most of those studies seem to involve
too little darkness). Too little or too much of
certain nutrients (for example, for humans too
little Vitamin D -- which is actually a hormone --
has been linked to increased rates of heart disease
and some malignancy and difficulty fighting off viruses
(but in ferrets it's easy to get too much for health)
while in ferrets too little Vitamin A has been linked to
difficulty fighting off Canine Distemper (but in humans
it's easy to get too much for health). Certain plastics
(especially some of the flexible and clear ones) have
been found to shed pseudo-estrogens, and I would
have to check but I think I recall that some of the stain
retardant chemicals used in some fabrics and carpets
also recently were linked to some endocrinological
disturbances (but I could be misremembering and they
might mess with something entirely different so check
me on that because I can't check myself right now).
Chronic obesity appears to be able to make the pancreas
not respond properly to a hormone, leptin, that fat
releases and that hormone turns out to be one of the
ways the body deals with blood glucose levels (Leptin
lowered blood glucose as well as insulin does in study
IF there was normal body weight, but did not do so when
there was obesity.) Sufficient exercise has been linked in
a wide range of animals to an absolutely enormous range
of health improvements from endocrinological ones to
reduced rates of a range of hormonal malignancies to
reduced rates of cardiovascular disease. The exercise
studies are pretty incredible for the many health aspects
affected and in some cases affected very, very strongly.

There are other things that have been postulated but
those are things which have actually had well controlled
studies, and not being an endocrinologist I really suspect
there are going to be more that have been well studied
of which I an unaware."

People who have the bad luck with adrenal disease or
insulinoma do talk about them more because they are
encountering them more. If a person speaks more
widely there are those who are seeing very low rates,
too. I think the ones with the incredibly low rates
SAME GENE POOL -- lower rates than what we are
seeing -- are probably doing multiple things right and
I think they could teach all of the rest of us if only we'd

That isn't just true for these diseases. When I was
compiling info on the lifespans of ferrets with neural crest
markings (such as non-standard while body splotches,
and panda or blaze heads) one friend (a gent in the
Basin and Range area) stood out in getting normal
lifespans for them, plus he was consistently getting long
lifespans for his others. What did he do differently
from anyone else? It wasn't food; he fed a wide range
of foods from kibble to raw and let the ferrets eat
whatever the individuals preferred and that didn't seem
to alter lifespan among those individuals, but what he
did do that was very different is he was able to provide a
LOT of exercise for them. So, we have been trying that
and really emphasizing exercise for two we have who
have neural crest markings and we are getting much
improved health and longevity with those two, so maybe
exercise is especially important for ferrets and perhaps
even more so for ferrets with neural crest markings.

Do I think that genetics may play a factor? Sure I do. I've
said as much for ages. Back when we first had ferrets
all that there was to feed around us was grocery store
cat food and I am sure that we had some other bad
practices, in fact, I know that we did, BUT I knew a
number of others with ferrets then and adrenal
disease and insulinoma were incredibly rare -- like
the low rates some people see these days and like the
rates we hear from some people in Europe and Australia."

Oh, and I forgot to include it in my reply but historically
first people began reporting higher rates of adrenal
disease and then (maybe a couple or several years
later?) I began seeing people for the first time begin
writing about adrenal disease below the age of 5 years.

BTW, whole ferrets can get adrenal disease but
usually at older ages and at lower rates, but you
will notice in the archives that in the last decade
early adrenal disease has been (rarely) seen in
young, whole ferrets. That, too, points to possible
genetic contributors.

"What things were different? Probably a number but
two that are very obvious. The first is that those
green equipment lights became common. The second,
and for overall health something to always remember,
is that people began breeding fancy ferrets. It began
with some private breeders and with one mid-sized ferret
farm in Pennsylvania. Many other breeders and the
other farms were still mostly concentrating on standards
and albinos. What changed that? Well, it turned out that
there were people who were happy to pay premium prices
for unusual sizes, unusual tail lengths, unusual fur, patchy
markings, white heads, etc., plus the new ferrets were a
different type of pretty. Low and behold, many others
began following suit, both private breeders and farms. What
were the results? Well, neural crest changes have been linked
in theory to some changes in the adrenal ("Star Gene" -- now
known to actually be changes that can be caused by a number
of genetic differences at several genetic locations so they
can even be cumulative -- is thought to very possibly alter the
adrenal output by reducing and slowing epinephrin
(adrenalin) production) as well as to increased rates of heart
disease in many species, deafness, mandible (jaw)
malformations, GI problems from the nerves being messed
up, and more. Angora ferrets have had reports leak from
some European farms of nasal and skull malformations in
high rates and high numbers of kits lost. The short tailed
versions of ferrets appear to have higher rates of spina
bifida as in other species. The list can go on and on. If
Yahoogroups has not removed too many of the past
archives yet at Ferret Genetics these can be read about
there; I know that some past posts so seem to be missing
there. See:"

Also see:
which is the single best genetics post the FHL has ever had
and is by a genetics professor, Dr. Brett Middleton.

The person then brought up something that had slipped
my mind (GREAT CATCH!) and should not have done so:
phytoestrogens, in this case specifically soy was mentioned
TO me so I noted:

"Soy certainly has phytoestrogens (plant estrogens)
that are useable by mammals. The best time for exposure
to soy in studies so far is as a fetus and it appears to be
good to grow up eating it for humans but that for some
types of malignancies it may be bad to add large amounts
after that malignancy is present, though there are hundreds
of malignancy types with varying needs and oncological
nutrition is a budding field. We personally have not diluted
Ferretone or any other ferret products, BTW. Quite a
number of plants produce high levels of phytoestrogens,
BTW. Cherries are one that I craved during perimenopause.
Phytoestrogens can be looked up in
if memory serves out of thousands of studies a few on the
topic have happened in ferrets.

You know, maybe I'd better make these points on the FHL.
I think I'll copy my sections there..."

BTW, high amount of soy in the diet during fetal development
cause (in rodent studies) slimmer build, less tendency to put
on too much weight (so maybe those with obesity in their ferret
families would be well served by the mothers having that during
pregnancy), darker pelage, and lowered rates of diabetes and
of heart disease. It looks like soy gotten as a fetus from the
mother's diet turns on or turns off (I forget which) certain genetics
which can result in health improvements. It's an epigenetic effect,
so maybe maternal diet during pregnancy might be another thing
to consider in relation to differences that might affect later

Sukie (not a vet)

Recommended ferret health links:
all ferret topics:

"All hail the procrastinators for they shall rule the world tomorrow."
(2010, Steve Crandall)


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