Shark Cartilage Therapy involves the use of shark cartilage as a food supplement. Cartilage is a connective tissue. Found in the head and fins of sharks, it is ground into powder and used in capsule form. Many people prefer the enema form due to the size and taste of the capsules. It can also be injected Bovine cartilage is another type of therapy not to be confused with shark cartilage.
Shark Cartilage Therapy is considered a form of antiangiogenesis.
Antiangiogenesis or anti-angiogenesis is a type of therapy that uses pharmacology or other substances to stop cancer cells from creating new blood vessels.
Antiangiogenesis agents don’t target the cancer tumor; their focus is the blood vessels that nourish the cancer tumors, literally starving the tumors.
Dietary supplements are available and marketed as Carticin, Cartilade, and BeneFin. These supplements are not regulated by the FDA. Per NCCAM (The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine) “In the United States, herbal and other dietary supplements are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as foods. This means that they do not have to meet the same standards as drugs and over-the-counter medications for proof of safety, effectiveness, and what the FDA calls Good Manufacturing Practices.”
In 2004 the FDA did order the manufacturers of BeneFin to stop advertising the product as a cancer cure and to refund customers.
Primary side effects of cartilage include alterations in taste.
The National Cancer Institute also reports the following side effects:
- Abdominal cramps
- Low blood pressure
- Higher than normal blood sugar
- General weakness.
- A higher than normal blood calcium levels
Neovastat (AE-941) is a new drug from highly purified extract of shark cartilage. Neovastat is regulated by the FDA and is not available to the public, as it is still undergoing investigative research. Used as a liquid form it may be more readily utilized by the body than other forms which are thought to be simply excreted.
Clinical Trials Involving Cartilage Therapy:
November 1998 Journal of Clinical Oncology reports on the Phase I/II trial of the safety and efficacy of shark cartilage in the treatment of advanced cancer. “CONCLUSION: Under the specific conditions of this study, SC as a single agent was inactive in patients with advanced-stage cancer and had no salutary effect on quality of life. The 16.7% rate of SD was similar to results in patients with advanced cancer treated with supportive care alone.”
2002 Annals of Oncology reported on the results of Neovastat (AE-941 ) in refractory renal cell carcinoma patients: report of a phase II trial with two does levels. CONCLUSION:There were no firm conclusions from this study.
Phase III Randomized Study of Shark Cartilage (BeneFin™) in Patients With Advanced Colorectal or Breast Cancer. A National Cancer Institute Study, evaluating shark cartilage in patients with advanced cancer. Trial completion date was September, 2006. This trial was unable to demonstrate any suggestion of efficacy for this shark cartilage product in patients with advanced cancer.
Clinical Trial Information involving AE-941 can be found at Clinical Trials. Gov.
Upcoming Clinical Trials Involving Shark Cartilage:
From the National Cancer Institute site: NCI-Sponsored Trial Tests Shark Cartilage Extract in Patients with Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer
“The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has launched a large, randomized clinical trial to test the effects of shark cartilage in combination with chemotherapy and radiotherapy in patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) that cannot be removed by surgery. The study will take place at more than 50 sites throughout the United States and Canada and seeks to enroll 756 patients over the next three years.
To be eligible for the study, patients must have a measurable lesion, a confirmed diagnosis of inoperable non-small cell lung cancer stage IIIA or IIIB, and be candidates for chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Since Neovastat is a liquid extract of shark cartilage, patients allergic to fish products cannot participate in the study.”
The New York Times, June 3, 2007. Shark Cartilage, Not a Cancer Therapy
The National Cancer Institute: Questions and Answers on Cartilage (Bovine & Shark)
University of California, San Diego Medical Center. Moores Cancer Center. Complementary and Alternative Therapies for Cancer Patients. Cartilage.