If I were to tell you that there were a bottle of magic pills on the market today that cures cancer and several other illnesses that will only cost you as much as an autographed photo of Joe Piscapo, would you say I’m crazy? Well, I sure as hell would! I’m talking, of course, about shark cartilage. I will try to show both sides to this argument as evenly as possible, although it will be kind of challenging!
Along with Nirvana and MC Hammer, this so-called “miracle” remedy was all the rage back in the early nineties when a book came out by Dr. William Lane in 1992 called “Sharks Don’t Get Cancer”. This book sparked a lot of controversy as it mentions that shark cartilage prevents angiogenesis (the growth of new blood vessels from pre-existing vessels, which is a breeding ground for cancer). However, over the years, all of this hype has been somewhat debunked by several research studies that show inconclusive evidence and also that sharks actually can get cancer. There have been a few studies done in humans by the National Cancer Institute that don’t show any conclusive evidence either. Although research is still being done with this product and several other herbal supplements to see if something can help in the cure for cancer, I somewhat doubt, unfortunately, that they will find anything conclusive.
Now for the other side (somewhat)! Some researchers did a very recent study on rats that show that shark cartilage did, in fact, serve as an angiogenic inhibitor (read this study). This study may spark a new interest in investigating the health properties of shark cartilage, but please bare in mind that they studied rats and not humans, which cannot be conclusive evidence that the effect will be interchangeable in both subjects. There are also people claiming that their cancer went into remission after supplementing with shark cartilage, which is great, but diseases are cyclical in nature, meaning that it will just go away on its own. Of course this isn’t true with everyone, but whether or not shark cartilage was the culprit for curing someone’s cancer is nearly impossible to prove.
I also know that there are a lot of people who believe in herbal healing and supplementation who think that there actually is an herbal cure for cancer that the government and the FDA is trying to cover up to continue to make money on selling the public drugs, conducting bogus cancer research and such and also putting out fake studies to show that herbs don’t cure any diseases. While that sounds pretty sensational and we will never know for sure if it is true or not, I can tell you that the supplement industry (and yes folks, this does include herbs!) isn’t regulated by a governing body thanks to the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA). This means that any supplement manufacturer can claim whatever they want on their product label, just as long as they put the word “may” before their claims, regardless if it’s true or not. In order to back up their claims, they would have to spend millions upon millions of dollars researching their product. Who wants to do that if all they have to do is put something in a bottle, make a few claims that may or may not be true and sell it, all while being protected under the DSHEA? In all honesty, who knows if what you are buying at the store really has everything that it claims to have in each serving. Another alarming fact is that over 50% of our country does not know that supplements aren’t regulated closely and anyone who wants to sell something can without going through strict guidelines. So, I could basically start up my own supplement company today, put flour in some capsules, put some ridiculous claims on the bottle, sell it as shark cartilage and get away with it (at least until it is discovered that all I’m selling is flour anyway!). Now, I’m not saying that ALL supplement companies are lying. Hell, I still take protein shakes from time to time and some fat burners for energy (not that I actually believe that taking a pill will melt the fat off my body!), but I’m just saying that you have to be careful on what you believe the manufacturers claim about their product because, chances are, it hasn’t honestly been proven.
In conclusion, I hate to be a kill joy, but I would recommend saving your money when it comes to shark cartilage. Don’t buy into the hype because it is unproven, just like many supplements on the market today. However, if you must buy some of this stuff or any other herbal supplement, please make sure that it is manufactured by a reputable company. Now, I know that there are some of you die hard herbal and holistic healers out there giving me the finger, but this is just my opinion. You are all free to believe what you want! Personally, I won’t believe any claims unless they have been scientifically proven and not mere speculation. The search for a natural cure for cancer and other lethal diseases has been going on for countless years and will continue on into the future. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m suddenly in the mood for popping some popcorn and watching the movie ‘Jaws’.