10:39 AM EDT, August 18, 2011
Evidence is mounting that dogs aren't just man's favorite companion -- they can also literally save our lives.
Researchers in Germany have found that dogs, using just their power of scent, can detect cancer in 71 percent of patients.
According to this report in the BBC, the findings build on earlier research into canine's ability to sniff out cancer.
This type of research goes back to 1989, the story says, and scientists since have proven that dogs can find skin, bladder, bowel and breast cancers.
What researchers haven't been able to figure out, however, is just what the dogs are smelling.
Four trained dogs did the work -- German shepherds, a Lab and an Australian shepherd. Patients breathed into fleece tubes. When dogs sniffed the tube, they sat immediately down if they detected anything.
Eventually researchers would like to invent an "electronic nose" that could do the work of a dog.
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