Animal Hide, Shell & Others

Shark Cartilage

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What is Shark Cartilage?
Shark cartilage is extracted from the heads and fins of sharks. Cartilage is a type of connective tissue that is found in the skeletal systems of many animals, including humans. Sharks’ skeletons are made up almost entirely of cartilage. The major compounds in shark cartilage are proteoglycans and glycoproteins (large molecules with protein and carbohydrate components), as well as protein and calcium salts. Shark cartilage is promoted mainly as an alternative to conventional cancer treatment, but some forms are being studied for use along with standard therapies.


Although some laboratory and animal studies have shown that some components in shark cartilage have the ability to slow the growth of new blood vessels, these effects have not been proven in humans. The few small clinical studies of shark cartilage products published to date have not shown any benefit against cancer. Further clinical trials of the supplements and of a purified cartilage extract are currently under way.

How is it promoted for use?
Supporters believe that shark cartilage supplements or cartilage from other animals, such as cows, can slow or stop the growth of cancer (see also Bovine Cartilage). According to its supporters, shark cartilage contains proteins that stop angiogenesis, the process of blood vessel development. Tumors need a network of blood vessels to survive and grow, so cutting off the tumor’s blood supply starves it of nutrients, causing it to shrink or disappear. Some supporters also claim that shark cartilage can help against other diseases such as osteoporosis, arthritis, psoriasis, macular degeneration, and inflammation of the intestinal tract.

In what form  it is taken?

Most shark cartilage products are sold as dietary supplements in the form of pills or powders. Most have not been tested for effectiveness, safety, or to verify the purity of ingredients. Available scientific evidence does not support claims that shark cartilage supplements sold as food supplements are an effective treatment for cancer, osteoporosis, or any other disease. One shark cartilage product, called AE-941, is in the early phases of development as an investigational new drug.
Shark cartilage, the tough material that a sharks’ skeleton is composed of, is dried and powdered to create this popular dietary supplement.
Shark cartilage is usually taken by mouth as a capsule, powder, or liquid extract, but some people have trouble taking it by mouth because of the strong fishy smell and taste. It is sometimes used as an enema. The dose and length of treatment varies widely. Manufacturers often recommend large doses (up to 1 cup a day). Chondroitin, a supplement often used with glucosamine to help arthritis, is also made from cartilage. Either bovine or shark cartilage may be used to produce chondroitin.

Shark cartilage dietary supplements are different from AE-941, a liquid shark extract known as Neovastat. This extract is regulated by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as an investigational new drug. AE-941 is being used in carefully controlled clinical trials for people who have agreed to be part of the study.

A New York surgeon named John Prudden began investigating the use of animal cartilage as a medical treatment in the early 1950s. He used powdered cow cartilage to help heal the wounds of surgical patients and later used it to treat cancer. He reported that tumors shrank in more than half of the patients he treated, but the results have not been repeated in other studies.

Since then, many kinds of cartilage, from animals such as pigs, sheep, chickens, cows, and sharks, have been studied. After the 1992 publication of a popular book titled Sharks Don’t Get Cancer, written by I. William Lane, PhD, shark cartilage supplements became very popular among people interested in alternative medicine. The idea was that since cancer does not seem to develop in sharks as much as in humans, there may be something in the sharks’ systems that protects them from the disease.

Interest in shark cartilage increased after a television news magazine aired a segment in 1993 showing a study of patients with advanced cancer in Cuba who had gone into remission after being treated with shark cartilage. The results, however, have not been published in a peer-reviewed medical journal. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) later concluded that the results of the Cuban study were “incomplete and unimpressive.”

According to the FDA and the Federal Trade Commission, some manufacturers of shark cartilage supplements have been fined and/or forced to remove their products from the market for making unproven claims that they have cancer-fighting abilities. Such claims can only be made for drugs with proven effects.

Finding drugs that halt the spread of cancer by stopping the growth of blood vessels has been the subject of many conventional research studies in recent years. Some researchers believe that this therapy, called anti-angiogenesis therapy, holds a great deal of promise for certain types of cancer. A number of anti-angiogenesis drugs are currently being studied, and one is already approved to treat certain types of cancer. In addition, several drugs that were approved for other uses, including cancer treatment, have anti-angiogenic effects. These are now being studied more carefully for their role in anti-angiogenesis. Some researchers are trying to purify compounds in cartilage that stop the growth of blood vessels. But the most promising anti-angiogenic substances now in existence are those that have been purified from sources other than cartilage or have been made in laboratories.

Actual Evidence :
Shark cartilage is claimed to combat and/or prevent a variety of illnesses, most notably cancer. It is often marketed under the names Carticin, Cartilade, or BeneFin. A derivative of it named Neovastat was tested by AEterna Zentaris as an angiogenesis inhibitor and showed promising results in animals. Two clinical trials of Neovastat were completed in 2007, showing negative results

The consensus of available scientific evidence does not support claims that whole shark cartilage supplements are an effective treatment for cancer in humans. Although studies using cow and shark cartilage in people with cancer began in the early 1980s, few have been published. The scientific truth of many of these studies is open to question because they do not describe how treatment was given, how patients were assessed, long-term survival outcomes, or information about the cartilage used and its components.

Some experiments have shown that some forms of shark cartilage possess a modest ability to slow the growth of new blood vessels in laboratory cell cultures and in animals, but the effects on humans are not known. According to one review, results from 9 clinical series of patients receiving shark cartilage were mixed. None of the series were done under strict scientific controls.

In one clinical trial involving about 50 patients, researchers concluded that shark cartilage supplements had no effect on patients with advanced-stage cancers. When a more recent placebo-controlled clinical trial tested shark cartilage in more than 80 patients with advanced cancer, no benefit was found. “It wasn’t well tolerated, there wasn’t any suggestion of benefit in terms of quality of life, there wasn’t any suggestion of benefit in terms of survival,” commented Charles L. Loprinzi, the physician who authored the study report.

Researchers generally agree that the protein molecules in shark cartilage may be too large to be absorbed by the digestive tract and are simply excreted without ever reaching tumors in the body. However, some scientists have suggested that these substances may be more readily absorbed when taken in a liquid form. One study concluded that the liquid shark cartilage extract AE-941 (Neovastat) taken by mouth effectively slowed the growth of new blood vessels in healthy men, suggesting to the study authors that the active ingredients in liquid shark cartilage were available for use by the body’s healing systems.

A small study of the extract found that larger doses were better than smaller doses at prolonging survival in patients with advanced kidney cancer. A larger study was then done. While the results of this study have not been published, the manufacturer has stopped testing it against kidney cancer, suggesting that the results may not have been positive. The NCI sponsored a large, placebo-controlled randomized clinical trial using the extract with conventional chemotherapy and radiation therapy for the treatment of advanced (stage III) lung cancer. Preliminary results in this study were reported at the 2007 meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Based on analysis of outcomes from 379 patients, the researchers concluded that AE-941 did not improve overall survival.

Possible Complications:
This product is sold as a dietary supplement in the United States. Unlike drugs (which must be tested before being allowed to be sold), the companies that make supplements are not required to prove to the Food and Drug Administration that their supplements are safe or effective, as long as they don’t claim the supplements can prevent, treat, or cure any specific disease.

Some such products may not contain the amount of the herb or substance that is written on the label, and some may include other substances (contaminants). Actual amounts per dose may vary between brands or even between different batches of the same brand.

Most such supplements have not been tested to find out if they interact with medicines, foods, or other herbs and supplements. Even though some reports of interactions and harmful effects may be published, full studies of interactions and effects are not often available. Because of these limitations, any information on ill effects and interactions below should be considered incomplete.

Shark cartilage is not thought to be toxic, although it has been known to cause nausea, indigestion, fatigue, fever, and dizziness in some people. It may affect liver function, so ask your doctor before taking it if you have any kind of liver disease. It may also slow down the healing process for people recovering from surgery. People with a low white blood cell count should not take shark cartilage enemas, because there is a risk of life-threatening infection. Children should not take it because it could interfere with body growth and development.

Allergic reactions are possible. People with seafood allergies should avoid shark cartilage and chondroitin that is made from it. Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding should also avoid these supplements.

It is not known whether shark cartilage could cause any problems from interactions with other medicines. Relying on this type of treatment alone and avoiding or delaying conventional medical care for cancer, may have serious health consequences.

Criticism and controversy
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.[3] 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.” [4] 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), “researchers did not find a statistical difference in survival” between patients receiving shark cartilage and those taking 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.[5]

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


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Early Prostate Test Little Relief

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A blood test used to screen men for prostate cancer helps in early diagnosis, but doesn’t appear to tellingly lower deaths from the disease, two foreign medical studies have found.
CLICK TO SEE THE PICTURES..(1)………...(2)…….(3).…….(4)
The new studies come at a time the Urological Society of India is preparing to launch a nationwide prostate disease awareness campaign to encourage men to have themselves screened for prostate disease. The week-long drive is to begin on April 1.

A large US study examining the benefits of the prostate specific antigen (PSA) test found no detectable mortality benefits among men who opted for an annual test in comparison to men who did not undergo PSA screening.

The PSA, a protein made by prostate gland cells, is elevated in prostate cancer.

Another, even larger, seven-country European study has revealed only a 20 per cent reduction in deaths from prostate cancer after screening, but with a high risk of over-diagnosis and potentially risky over-treatment.

The studies, published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday, have raised a question mark over the belief that early diagnosis of prostate cancer through routine PSA screening will help reduce deaths through early start of treatment.

The US study monitored the health of more than 76,000 men — roughly half of whom received annual PSA tests, while the other half had no recommendation for or against annual prostate cancer screening. At the end of 10 years, there were 92 prostate cancer deaths in the annual PSA test group, and 82 in the usual-care group. The difference between the numbers is not statistically significant.

“(We) want to understand why some prostate cancers are lethal even when found early by annual screening,” said Christine Berg, the senior author of the study at the National Cancer Institutes (NCI) in the US.

“There may be some men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer and have the side effects of treatment, such as impotence or incontinence, with little chance of benefit,” said John Niederhuber, the NCI director.

Earlier studies have suggested that routine PSA screening may lead to diagnosis of prostate cancer in men who would not have otherwise experienced its symptoms — and thus have never known about the disease — throughout their lives.

“Over-diagnosis and over-treatment are probably the most important adverse effects of prostate cancer screening, and are vastly more common than in screening for breast, colorectal or cervical cancer,” Fritz Schroder from the Erasmus Medical Centre in the Netherlands and his colleagues wrote in their report based on tracking the health of more than 162,000 men between the ages of 55 and 69 years.

“Here in India, we’re not advocating the PSA test as a routine screening test to all above 40,” said Rajeev Sood, the head of urology at Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, New Delhi, and national convener of the prostate disease awareness campaign.

“A digital rectal exam is routinely offered to all men above 40 — we recommend the PSA only when we find evidence for hardness or nodules on the prostate or when a patient has lower urinary tract symptoms,” Sood told The Telegraph.

In a digital rectal exam, a doctor inserts a lubricated and gloved finger into the rectum to feel for any abnormalities.

Under the prostate disease awareness campaign in India, urologists across the country plan to organise special camps, deliver public outreach talks and offer advisory and diagnostic services.

You may click to see:->Benign prostatic hyperplasia

Sources: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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Exercise, Sleep Cuts Cancer Risk

Regular physical activity can significantly lower a woman’s risk of developing cancer, but skimping on sleep can eliminate those gains, a new study has found.


In a long-term study of nearly 6,000 US women, researchers found that those who exercised the most had a 25% lower chance of developing cancer than those who were the least active.

But among younger, physically active women, those who slept less than seven hours a night had a 47% higher risk of being diagnosed with cancer than those who regularly got a good night’s rest.

“Greater participation in physical activity has consistently been associated with reduced risk of cancer incidence at several sites, including breast and colon cancers,” said James McClain, a cancer prevention fellow at the National Cancer Institute and lead author of the study, released yesterday.

“Short duration sleep appears to have opposing effects of physical activity on several key hormonal and metabolic parameters, which is why we looked at how it affected the exercise/cancer risk relationship.”

It is not yet known exactly why exercise reduces cancer risks but researchers believe it could be due to the lower body weight, improved immune function and hormone levels associated with regular physical activity.

Insufficient sleep has been linked to high risks of developing a number of conditions including heart disease, obesity and diabetes but, again, researchers have not determined exactly how sleep prevents disease.

The study was presented at a conference in Washington sponsored by the American Association for Cancer Research.

Sources: The Times Of India

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Will It Kill You? New Charts Tell You the Odds

A 55-year-old man who smokes is as likely to die in the next 10 years as a 65-year-old who has never smoked. Less than 1 woman in 1,000 younger than 50 will die in the next decade from cervical cancer.


New risk charts in a paper published in The Journal of the National Cancer Institute provide a broader perspective than most of the risk calculators on the Internet. They cover the risks for 10 different causes of death, and for all causes combined, while differentiating by age and between smokers, nonsmokers and former smokers.

People are often presented with statistics intended to frighten them about a particular disease. But a disease may present a large risk to some and very little to others. These charts can allow you to find out what your own odds really are.

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The Quiet Cancers

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Three big dangers your doctor may not talk about and how to stay safe:

Your doctor has given you the lowdown on how to protect yourself against breast, colon, and lung cancer: Get yearly mammograms (check) and regular colonoscopies (check), and don’t smoke (double check).

But when was the last time she asked if you had any persistent mouth sores, unexplained fevers or joint pain, or discomfort during sex? These can be symptoms of three cancers—oral, leukemia, and endometrial—that don’t get the attention they deserve. Even though they are among the most common cancers affecting women over age 55, these diseases can fall through the cracks as doctors focus on the biggest killers hogging the health headlines, says Elmer Huerta, M.D., president of the American Cancer Society.

Oral Cancer

Your Risk:
1 in 98, with diagnoses peaking between the ages of 55 and 65. Oral cancer is lethal more often than it needs to be because people tend to ignore symptoms (it’s typically caught in late stages).

Stay healthy: Watch your mouth—see a dentist or doctor about any sore in your mouth or on your lips that doesn’t clear up in two weeks. A change in color or persistent pain, tenderness, or numbness anywhere in your mouth or on your lips should also prompt a fast visit.

Curb your vices: About 75 percent of oral cancers are caused by smoking and drinking alcohol. When such habits were considered unladylike, men with oral cancer outnumbered women 6 to 1, says Sol Silverman Jr., D.D.S., a professor of oral medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Dentistry. “But in the last 50 years, the incidence in women has soared—now the ratio is two men to every woman.” Limit your intake to one drink per day.

Guard your lips: They need protection, too. Sunscreen isn’t exactly tasty, so choose a balm with SPF and then apply your favorite gloss or lipstick.


The good news: Researchers at Ohio State University recently found that phytochemicals extracted from Hass avocados could kill or stop the growth of oral cancer cells. The study was done in test tubes, but there’s no need to wait for confirmation—bring on the guacamole!


Your Risk: Many think of it as a children’s disease, but the biggest jump in cases occurs between ages 55 and 74.

Stay healthy: Note any symptoms If you find yourself extremely pale or bruising easily, or if your gums bleed (more than is normal if you neglect to floss), it’s time to get checked out. Extreme fatigue, unexplained fevers, and bone or joint pain are other common symptoms.

Avoid unnecessary scans: CT scans are a great diagnostic tool, but they deliver much more radiation than X-rays and may be overused, says Barton Kamen, M.D., Ph.D., chief medical officer for theLeukemia & Lymphoma Societyociety. In fact, researchers suggest that one-third of CT scans could be unnecessary. High doses of radiation can trigger leukemia, so make sure scans are not repeated if you see multiple doctors, and ask if another test, such as an ultrasound or MRI, could substitute.

The good news: The five-year survival rate for all people with leukemia has more than tripled in recent decades, from about 14 percent in the 1960s to about 65 percent today. “New advancements now help us determine who is a good candidate for a bone marrow transplant and who might respond better to other therapies,” says Kamen. “The result is more targeted treatment and better outcomes.”

Endometrial (Uterine) Cancer

Your Risk: 1 in 40. This is the fourth most common type of cancer in women—90 percent of cases occur in women over age 50. You’re more vulnerable if you’re toting extra weight: Obese women are two to three times as likely to develop the disease. “Fat acts like another gland, which increases the levels of estrogen and other hormones in your system. That stimulates the growth of abnormal tissues,” says Huerta.

Stay healthy: Mention any unusual bleeding. More than 80 percent of endometrial cancers are found in the earliest, most treatable stages because this symptom tends to send women promptly to their doctors. If you notice any vaginal bleeding after menopause or bleeding between your periods, or if you experience pelvic pain, especially during intercourse, tell your doctor immediately.

Know your family history: “The same genetic mutation that puts people at increased risk of colon cancer also ups their odds of getting endometrial cancer,” says Edward L. Trimble, MD, MPH, head of Gynecologic Cancer Therapeutics at the National Cancer Institute. If you have a parent or sibling with that disease, get screened yearly for endometrial cancer starting at 30.

Move more all day: In a recent report on more than 250,000 women, those who exercised several hours daily reduced their risk of endometrial cancer by up to 52 percent, probably because staying active reduces estrogen levels while helping you maintain a healthy weight. Exercise frequency mattered more than intensity—light housework, gardening, and walking are enough. Avoid iron: A Swedish study has found that taking iron supplements after menopause raises the risk of endometrial cancer by 70 percent. After age 50, the daily recommendation for iron drops from 18 mg per day to 8 mg, an amount easily obtained from food.

The good news: In the same study, calcium supplements halved endometrial cancer risk. (Researchers aren’t sure why, but eating high-calcium dairy products didn’t provide the same benefit.) Experts recommend that postmenopausal women consume up to 1,000 mg of calcium a day, and 1,200 mg after age 70.

Click to see Your Anti-Cancer Guide: ->

Sources: msn health & fitness

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