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Shark cartilage

Synonyms/Common Names/Related Substances:

  • AE-941, Arthrovas®, BeneFin®, calcium, calcium salts, cartilage, cartilage-derived inhibitor, cartílago de tiburón (Spanish), CDI, Cephaloscyllium ventriosum, chondroitin-6-sulfate, chondroitin sulfate, chondroitin sulfate-D, chondrosine, collagenase, copper, galactosamines, glucosamine, glycosaminoglycans, Haifischknorpel (German), Houtsmuller diet, iron, keratan sulfate, manganese, matrix Gla protein, MIA Shark Powder®, molybdenum, Mustelus californicus, Neoretna®, Neovastat®, Novastal®, octasaccharides, polar shark cartilage, proteoglycans, Psovascar™, selenium, shark, shark fin soup, Sharkilage®, smooth-hound shark, Sphyrna lewini (hammerhead shark), sphyrnastatin-1, squalamine, Squalus acanthias (spiny dogfish shark), strontium, swell shark, tetranectin-type protein, trimethylamine N-oxide, troponin-I, U-955, zinc.
  • Note: Catrix® is a preparation of bovine cartilage, not shark cartilage.

Clinical Bottom Line/Effectiveness

Brief Background:

  • With more than 40 brand-name products sold in 1995 alone, shark cartilage has become one of the most commonly recognized supplements in the United States. Primarily used for cancer, shark cartilage became popular in the 1980s after several poorly conducted case series reported "miracle" cancer cures (1;2;3;4).
  • Studies have investigated the use of AE-941, a multifunctional antiangiogenic compound, in the treatment of renal cell carcinoma (5), non-small-cell lung cancer (6), and pancreatic cancer (7). The antitumor effects of AE-941 are seen in multiple murine models and involve not only effects on primary tumor growth but also on the development of metastases (5). Surveys in Japan have shown that shark cartilage is a popular therapy option in patients with cancer (8).
  • According to secondary sources, research on AE-941 has rejuvenated interest in shark cartilage for malignancies, macular degeneration, psoriasis, and a range of inflammatory disorders. However, there is currently insufficient human evidence to recommend for or against shark cartilage for any indication. AE-941 is marketed under different names for different conditions: Neovastat® is used for oncology, Psovascar™ is used for dermatology, Neoretna® is used for ophthalmology, and Arthrovas® is used for rheumatology (9). The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted orphan drug status to this agent in 2002. Another product that works in a similar way is Novastal®, derived from the extracts of shark cartilage (10).
  • Data suggest the presence of novel non-plasmin fibrinolytic activities of shark cartilage extract. This extract may thus represent a potential source of new therapeutic molecules to prevent and treat vaso-occlusive and thromboembolic disorders (11).
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Dosing/Toxicology

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Precautions/Contraindications

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Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

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Mechanism of Action

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History

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Evidence Table

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Evidence Discussion

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Products Studied

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.