Shark Cartilage and Cancer

 

by Richard A. Passwater, Ph.D.

Every day I can count on calls and letters on three subjects -- one of them is shark cartilage. Ever since Dr. William Lane discussed shark cartilage and cancer with us in the March 1993 issue and the "60 Minutes" TV show that followed in three-to-four weeks, I have been getting requests for more information such as how much to use shark cartilage, which doctors are using it, are the results from the clinical trials known yet, and what is the latest that is known about shark cartilage. Dr. Lane was kind enough to address these questions in a follow-up discussion.

To refresh your memory, the first interview discussed how cancer grows, how shark cartilage destroys tumors and how shark cartilage can be tested for effectiveness. Basically, cancers that have solid tumors require a blood supply to feed the tumors. Cartilage is tissue that contains no blood vessels due to special proteins that inhibit blood vessel formation. These proteins are called "antiangiogenesis" factors. This term is derived from "anti" meaning here that it will inhibit, "angio" meaning "pertaining to blood vessels," and "genesis" meaning "formation of." Without blood vessels to feed the tumor, it will die.

The blood network of a tumor is fragile. Tumor capillaries are different from those of normal tissues and may be considered to be "immature." Their walls are thinner and decidedly more fragile. Tumor blood vessels are constantly broken down and replaced by new blood vessels. When an existing blood vessel is broken down in the presence of antiangiogenesis factors, it is not replaced by a new vessel and the section of the tumor fed by that blood vessel dies (necrosis).

Dr. Lane has been lecturing on shark cartilage all over the world, but we had a chance to chat again during the first week of November at the American College for Advancement in Medicine (ACAM) where I was speaking on the latest in antioxidant research.

 

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