Shark cartilage has been touted as a potential alternative or complementary cancer treatment for several decades. Dozens of shark cartilage products are sold as dietary supplements, but none have been studied in humans.
A recently published study indicated that adding a drug derived from shark cartilage to standard cancer treatments did not improve survival among patients with late-stage lung cancer.
In the trial, 400 patients with inoperable non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in the study were randomized to receive either 1) standard chemotherapy and radiation or 2) standard treatment and the shark cartilage drug, known as AE-941.
AE-941 is a carefully formulated and regulated liquid shark cartilage product that is developed as a drug, rather than one of the commercially available supplements.
At the end of the study, there was no difference was seen in overall survival, progression-free survival, time-to-disease progression, and tumor response rates between the two groups.
In fact, patients who got the shark cartilage treatment lived for an average of 14.4 months, which was a month less than the average survival of patients who did not take shark cartilage.
Even though the shark cartilage study proved disappointing, investigator White indicated that other alternative treatments still show promise for the treatment of cancer. Among them, he says, are green tea extract and curcumin, which is derived from the spice turmeric.
Source: Lu, C. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, published online May 26, 2010.
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