Anticancer Effects of Shark Cartilage Questioned


Contrary to popular belief, shark cartilage may not be an effective adjunct therapy for cancer, researchers report in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

With more than 40 brand-name products, shark cartilage has become one of the most commonly recognized supplements in the United States. Primarily used for cancer, shark cartilage became popular in the 1980s after several reports of “miracle” cures in cancers treated with shark cartilage.

Researchers have hypothesized that shark cartilage may have anticancer effects because it may slow the growth of new blood vessels. Since tumors need blood vessels to grow and spread, many new anticancer drugs target blood vessel growth.

In the recent study, nearly 400 adults with inoperable non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) were randomly assigned to standard chemotherapy and radiation or standard treatment plus AE-941, a standardized aqueous shark cartilage extract.

The researchers found that shark cartilage did not affect overall survival time. On average, patients in the shark cartilage group lived for 14.4 months, while the standard treatment group lived about 15.6 months. This difference was not statistically significant.

In addition, there were no differences in time to progression, progression-free survival, tumor response rate or toxic effects.

Currently, there is not enough evidence that shark cartilage is beneficial for any type of cancer. Additional research is needed.

Shark cartilage has also been studied as a potential treatment for arthritis, macular degeneration, psoriasis, pain and a range of inflammatory disorders. However, there is also not enough available evidence to support these uses.

For more information about shark cartilage, please visit Natural Standard’s Foods, Herbs & Supplements database.

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