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Shark cartilage doesn't appear to help lung cancer

Clinical trial finds extract doesn't fight tumors

Lung cancer patients taking shark cartilage fared no better than patients not taking the extract, scientists report in the June 16 Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Shark cartilage is frequently recommended as a cancer treatment by complementary or alternative medicine practitioners, and surveys suggest that between six and 25 percent of cancer patients do take it. Yet there is little research in cells or animals to back up the substance’s supposed anticancer effects, says Jeffrey White of the Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md., who was not involved in the study.

Patients enrolled in the study had non–small cell lung cancer, the most common type. Half of the 397 participants took the shark cartilage extract, also known as AE-941 or Neovastat, and half got a placebo. All of the study participants also received chemotherapy and radiation.

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