Cancer: No Shark for You!

Shark cartilage is being used to treat cancer? Who prescribes that, a witch doctor? “Take two eye of newt and a shark fin and call me in da’ mornin’ mon.” But unfortunately for witch doctors and shaman, a new study shows shark cartilage is no help against lung cancer. Maggie Fox of Reuters reports:
Shark cartilage products have been marketed for years as "alternative" products by several firms, and one Canadian company, Aeterna Zentaris Inc., had been developing one such product as a licensed pharmaceutical.

But the large study, sponsored by the National Cancer Institute, showed definitively that the product did not work, experts told a meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago…

… The study fits in with several others that have been published in recent years showing that various shark cartilage products do not help cancer patients live any longer, or help ease their symptoms.

"I would like to hope, I would like to pray, that this would put this sort of therapy out of business," Dr. Nancy Davidson, an oncologist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore who is about to become president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, said in an interview.
Don’t worry. You won’t find Dr. Fuhrman consulting the stones and bones for magic remedies. He’s doesn’t believe the hype surrounding shark cartilage on bit. From Ineffective Anti-Cancer Remedies: Shark Cartilage:
This is a perfect example of how a good story can sprout a billion dollar industry. After the book Sharks Don't Get Cancer aired on television, showing cancer patients using shark cartilage apparently doing well, millions of cancer sufferers took (expensive) shark cartilage for years, until the first well-designed study followed cancer patients over time and found the shark cartilage had no discernible effect. Since then, manufacturers have stopped claiming that shark cartilage has any beneficial anti-cancer properties.
Why do I hear the Jaws theme song all of a sudden? Ah!
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Comments (3) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Kyle Key - June 7, 2007 8:40 AM

Why is there no way to see the news in chronological order after it's been bumped off of the main page?

LLouise - June 7, 2007 2:24 PM

Haha, I asked the same thing on the forum.

I was told there is no way. Doesn't seem like it would be such a task...even regular, free blogs have it.

I often would like to see the "previous page," and to provide a link would be a great option on this blog, which is chock-full of information...

Dawn - July 28, 2007 9:59 PM

I would not count shark cartilage (or bovine tracheal cartilage) out of the picture as adjunctive in cancer treatment. It does not act on the cancer directly. It does have anti-angiogenic properties when taken in large doses--I'd like to see the doses used in reference to this conclusion. It must be administered according to body weight, which might require over 60 capsules a day (hence the availability of bulk powder for those trying it for this purpose). The taste is just so objectionable that some folks have had to use it in a retention enema form, In these larger amounts it helps prevent the tumor from stimulating new blood vessel formation to itself (one of the reasons that people have to stop taking it if they are about to undergo surgery, and why they shouldn't take it if they've had a recent heart attack or are pregnant). I would not think that it would be beneficial in lung cancer because of the perfusion of blood through the lungs and the easy spread from the site through the bloodstream. In fact, if I were trying to disprove the efficacy of shark cartilage, lung cancer is the type I would choose for my study--since anti-angiogenesis is likely to be least effective in a naturally blood-filled organ. However, a study with a solid tumor known to proliferate primarily by extension into its surroundings would be a worthwhile endeavor. As for cost, it's fairly ridiculous to compare the cost of any supplement to chemo or other standard medical therapies. A month supply of shark cartilage might run $400. Avastin (the pharmaceutical antiangiogenesis wonder child) is $5000 per injection and must be repeated every three weeks.

I rarely see the appropriate doses of "natural" substances used in "medical" research--look at the sham they did on echinacea. There is a fundamental misunderstanding in orthodox medicine as to the use of herbs and extracts. They also fail to publicize comparisons of effectiveness alongside pharmaceutical drugs--they declared St. John's Wort a failure with effectiveness in only 1/3 of depression cases, but failed to admit that it is, therefore, equal to the effectiveness reported for some of the most-prescribed anti-depressants--but without, I might add, the side effects.

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