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Neovastat is an investigational drug derived from shark cartilage which is currently being studied as a cancer treatment. It should not be confused with over the counter shark cartilage products, which contain mostly filler, vary widely in the amount of cartilage they contain, and are completely ineffective. Double-blind studies which have been conducted using regular shark cartilage have shown no effectiveness at all.
Scientific interest in shark cartilage came about because of the presence of a protein in the cartilage which was researched for its possible use in preventing angiogenesis, which is the growth of new blood vessels from existing ones, which in turn could hinder the growth of cancerous tumors. The results of these studies were inconclusive and still being investigated. Alternative health writers seized on the fact that these early studies took place to promote shark cartilage, and also bovine cartilage, as cures for cancer. Most notably, the 1992 book Sharks Don't Get Cancer by William Lane was a bestseller. Even the title of the book is wrong — sharks do get cancer. Shark cartilage has been shown to be pro-inflammatory, that is it causes inflammation. And chronic inflammation is known to cause cancer.
Even if the protein in question does have some value, taking shark cartilage pills, or shark cartilage via an enema as promoted by William Lane, cannot deliver it where it is needed in the body in the first place as it cannot be absorbed into the bloodstream. Buying shark cartilage is flushing your money down the toilet.
As with almost anything produced from sharks, the cartilage (if not purified to the point of denaturation) also contains elevated amounts of squalene, one of the Secret Toxic Ingredients de rigueur as of the early 2010s (see vaccine hysteria). At least before the squalene fear epidemic, shark cartilage populations with extra squalene added were quite popular in the nostrum market.
In addition, several species of sharks are endangered or threatened species, and widespread demand for shark cartilage as a purported medical cure can increase overfishing of these species.
- Sharks Do Get Cancer: Tumor Found in Great White by Douglas Main, Staff Writer (December 03, 2013 05:15pm ET) Live Science.
- Shark cartilage: has the popularisation of science failed? Constantine Alifrangis & Justin Stebbing (Volume 13, No. 1, p22, January 2012) The Lancet DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1470-2045(11)70425-9.
- Pro-inflammatory properties of shark cartilage supplement by L. Merly & S.L. Smith Immunopharmacol Immunotoxicol. 2015 Apr;37(2):140-7. doi: 10.3109/08923973.2014.999160. Epub 2015 Jan 20.
- Chronic Inflammation and Cancer by Emily Shacter & Sigmund A. Weitzman (January 31, 2002) Oncology