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Shark cartilage

Shark cartilage is a popular dietary supplement that is claimed to combat and/or prevent a variety of illnesses, most notably cancer. It is often marketed under the names Carticin, Cartilade™, BeneFin™, and Neovastat.

The benefits of this supplement have not been scientifically proven, nor has shark cartilage been reviewed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, its pervasive use is due to the incorrect notion that sharks do not get cancer. This idea became popular with the best-selling book Sharks Don't Get Cancer by Dr. William Lane, published in 1992. This assertion even appears in the film on sharks at the Monterey Bay Aquarium (although the aquarium does not endorse the use of shark cartilage).


The debate

Proponents of shark cartilage are encouraged by anecdotal evidence from users as to its efficacy. The proponents also cite studies that show that shark cartilage has had some success in preventing angiogenesis, the growth of new blood vessels from pre-existing vessels. While angiogenesis is often a normal function, it is also consistent with the growth of malignant tumors. They argue too, that very little research (in the quantity and quality of studies) has been conducted, and thus the benefits cannot be scientifically disputed.

Opponents cite existing studies of shark cartilage on a variety of cancers that produced negligible to non-existent results in the prevention or treatment of cancer.[1] Most notably was the breast-cancer trial conducted by the Mayo Clinic that stated that the trial "was unable to demonstrate any suggestion of efficacy for this shark cartilage product in patients with advanced cancer." [2] The results of another clinical trial were presented at the 43rd annual meeting of the American Society for Clinical Oncology. In that study (sponsored by the National Cancer Institute), patients who received shark cartilage extract did not live as long as those who received a placebo.[[1]]

Detractors also purport that previous beliefs in regards to sharks and cancer have been overturned, as forty-two varieties of cancer have now been discovered in sharks and related species. Also, many opponents feel that non-existent (or even limited) results do not justify the rampant over-fishing of many endangered species of sharks, further threatening their extinction.[3]

The protein involved in inhibiting angiogenesis would have to be injected into the bloodstream to have any effect on the cancer in the body. When a patient takes shark cartilage orally the protein is digested before it reaches the area of the tumor. Not all cancers rely on angiogenesis for energy.

Legal action

  In the summer of 2004, Lane Labs, the manufacturers of BeneFin, was ordered to cease the promotion BeneFin as a treatment or cure for cancer, as they had not conducted any research as to their claims for the product, much less reported any potential side effects. Thus, the FDA ordered Lane Labs to "pay restitution to all of its customers from September of 1999 to the present."[4]


  1. ^ "Shark Cartilage Shows No Benefit as a Therapeutic Agent for Lung Cancer." 1 June 2007,
  2. ^ Loprinzi CL, Levitt R, Barton DL, et al.: Evaluation of shark cartilage in patients with advanced cancer: a North Central Cancer Treatment Group trial. Cancer 104 (1): 176-82, 2005.
  3. ^ "Facts endangering sharks: Cartilage." Shark Foundation, Foundation for research and the preservation of sharks. 26 January 2006, 18:19 UTC. 26 January 2006, 18:34 .
  4. ^ "Warning Against BeneFin." 26 January 2006, 20:02


  • American Cancer Society
  • Evaluation of shark cartilage in patients with advanced cancer: a North Central Cancer Treatment Group trial
  • Information on shark cartilage, from
  • Do Sharks Hold Secret to Human Cancer Fight?, discussion at National Geographic
  • Aetna InteliHealth, lists study results


  • REAL LIFE's Shark Cartilage Information Exchange, began in 1995
  • Sharks Don't Get Cancer: How Shark Cartilage Could Save Your Life , by William Lane, Ph.D., 1992 {ISBN 0-89529-520-2)
  • The Angiogenesis Foundation


  • Shark Cartilage Supplements Have No Effect, from the American Cancer Society
  • Injunction from the Federal Trade Commission, against Lane Labs-USA, Inc., Cartilage Consultants, Inc.
  • Alternative Cancer Treatments: Unproven and Potentially Unsafe, from Johns Hopkins Hospital
  • The Shark Foundation

See also

  • Shark fin soup
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Shark_cartilage". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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