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 Facts endangering sharks: Cartilage

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Cartilage and Cartilage Preparations   Cartilage and Cartilage Preparations   Cartilage and Cartilage Preparations
Cartilage and Cartilage Preparations

«Sharks don't get cancer» is the title of a pseudoscientific book written by Dr. William I. Lane, which at the beginning of the 90s started the "run" on shark cartilage. It is based on a study by researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) dating back to 1983 in which they claimed that cartilage from calves and sharks influence the blood supply and thus, indirectly, the growth of tumors. By citing questionable studies the book praises shark cartilage as a universal remedy against cancer.

This was a clever move by the capable agrobiochemist William Lane who by profession and as President of the American Fish Meal Trade Association was looking into investment possibilities in the fishing industry of Guinea on behalf of the Reagan Administration in office at the time. An effective anticancer substance promised to flourish into a billion dollar business, even for Lane himself who owned one of the largest companies dealing with shark products.

In June 2000 Lane's company was sentenced to pay a one million USD penalty for unfair competition.

Additional Facts
  1. Sharks do get cancer! Up until today 42 varieties of cancer in sharks and related species (including chondromas, i.e. forms of cartilage cancer) have been registered in the scientific "Tumor Register of Lower Animals" issued by George Washington University and mentioned in a paper by G. K. Ostrander (John Hopkins University) published in the December 2004 issue of Cancer Research.
    Dr. G. K. Ostrander fears that already threatened shark populations around the world will be even more strongly endangered through such false reports as "Shark Cartilage against Cancer".

  2. Shark cartilage is also sold as a food supplement, despite the fact that to date no proof is available for it being any more effective than powdered pig's ears. The only real difference is that pig populations are not endangered.

  3. Sharks - together with parts of bony fishes - are processed into fish meal which is a component of animal food, fertilizer and other products. This is a waste of ecologically very important animals.

  4. There are several not yet precisely defined active substances in cartilage (including shark cartilage) which have shown to inhibit the growth of certain tumors IN THE TEST-TUBE.

  5. Up until today no serious scientific study is available in which treatment with shark cartilage has proven to have any effect on human cancer cells. Shark cartilage preparations are usually taken orally or are administered in the form of an enema. If such cartilage has any cancer-inhibiting components which may be effective through their direct application in the immediate area of the tumor, they may possibly be digested in the stomach if taken orally, or destroyed by gastric acid.

  6. A potential cancer-inhibiting effect is not restricted to shark cartilage. As could be shown by several tests performed at MIT (1983), calf cartilage has shown a similar effect.

  7. June 30, 2002 marks the first noteworthy conviction of a producer of shark cartilage preparations. The American Federal Trade Commission (FTC) ordered Lane Labs-USA Inc. and Cartilage Consultants to immediately stop marketing shark cartilage as a presumable remedy against cancer. Andrew Lane, the President of Lane Labs and his father, the already well known Dr. William I. Lane and owner of Cartilage Consultants, were accused of misleading advertising and marketing campaigns for the shark cartilage preparation "BeneFin" and the sun cream "SkinAnswer" by praising them as being effective against cancer.
    In addition, Lane Labs also received and paid a penalty of USD 1 million because of unfair competition.

Cancer Research, December 1, 2004.

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