Shark fin does not cure cancer
Shark fin does not cure cancer
Study reports shark cartilage does not help fight lung cancer
June 3, 2007
Shark cartilage, long believed in traditional medicine to be an anti-cancer agent, confers no health benefits in surviving lung cancer reports an extensive study presented at the 43rd annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.
Shark cartilage extract, AE-941 or Neovastat, did not offer health improvement versus a placebo in a trial of 384 newly-diagnosed untreated Stage III non-small cell lung cancer patients who also underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatment.
“Clearly, these results demonstrate that AE-941 is not an effective therapeutic agent for lung cancer,” said Charles Lu, M.D., lead author of the study and associate professor at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. “So, too, these findings have to cast major skepticism on shark cartilage products that are being sold for profit and have no data to support their efficacy as cancer-fighting agent.”
Photo by Rhett A. Butler
Lu warned that patients currently taking shark cartilage should not expect the therapy alone to be beneficial.
“We have absolutely no data showing improvements in survival, tumor shrinkage and/or clinical benefits to patients,” said Lu. “Now when patients ask their oncologists about shark cartilage, physicians can point to this large NCI-sponsored Phase III trial and tell patients that, at this point, the only studies that have been done with cartilage-derived products have been negative.”
Sharks are widely harvested for their fins which are believed to bring luck and health benefits in some cultures. A Science study last year estimated that 26-73 million sharks are killed a year for their fins.
Andrew Pollack notes that shark fin soup might taste good but it won’t do much for cancer (“Shark Cartilage, Not a Cancer Therapy,” June 3).
Taste aside, there are very good reasons to avoid shark cartilage, especially in shark fin soup. Tests in East Asia have shown that fins contain dangerously high levels of mercury, leading to fears about the safety of consumers–children and pregnant women in particular.
The perceived medicinal “value” of shark fins has led to the brutal practice of shark “finning.” Every year, millions of sharks are hauled from the oceans, have their fins sliced off while they are still living, and are then thrown back into the sea enduring a painful death, because shark meat has little value to commercial fishermen.
And I should point out that shark fins themselves have no flavor — it is the addition of chicken or fish broth that creates the flavor, making a bowl of shark fin soup in a high-end restaurant perhaps the most expensive and potentially dangerous chicken soup in the world.
William R. Rivas-Rivas
International Campaigns Manager
Humane Society International
2100 L Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20037
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