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Friday, 29 September, 2000, 14:13 GMT 15:13 UK
Shark 'treatment' rubbished again
Shark cartilage has long been touted as a cancer treatment
Shark cartilage has long been touted as a cancer treatment
Another study has dismissed the much-hyped benefits of shark cartilage as a drug to help cancer patients.

The Danish research, presented at the European Breast Cancer Conference, found no benefits whatsoever in women taking the popular alternative treatment.


I would not recommend it since it has no convincing effect, it produces gastrointestinal side-effects and it is expensive

Dr Lene Adrian
Tablets manufactured from the connective tissue of the shark have been marketed as a "cure for cancer" for several years following the publication of a book, Sharks don't get Cancer.

It was thought that cartilage, which may be able to block the production of blood vessels, would be able to stop tumours developing their own blood supplies and starve them of nutrition.

Unfortunately, more recent studies have demonstrated that sharks do in fact develop many different kinds of tumour - including cancers of the cartilage itself.

Poor performance

And the medication derived from them has performed poorly in a series of clinical trials.

The Danish trial involved 17 patients with advanced breast cancer, in whom conventional therapy was having no effect.

They were given a large dose of cartilage - 24 capsules a day.

However, three months later, the cancer had progressed in 15 out of the 17.

One patient who did show an improvement then developed a secondary tumour in her brain.

The only "success" appeared in a patient with secondary bone cancer, who was still alive a year later.

However, the study authors pointed out that it was not unprecedented for long term stable disease to emerge in patients with metastatic breast cancer.

Study author Dr Lene Adrian, from Copenhagan University Hospital, said: "The evidence that shark cartilage has no place in cancer treatment is growing stronger.

"I would not recommend it since it has no convincing effect, it produces gastrointestinal side-effects and it is expensive."

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See also:

06 Apr 00 | Health
Shark cancer claims rubbished
28 Sep 00 | Health
Breast Cancer 2000
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