Could the cure for cancer be a piece of shark cartilage away?

posted: 04/11/12
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In the early 1990s, a new cure-all hit the scene. Suddenly, shark cartilage was all the rage, and the one thing in particular people thought it could beat was our long-standing nemesis: cancer. Researchers had been studying cartilage for a while, and early reports had declared sharks to be cancer-proof.

But as with many a quick fix, people began to have doubts about shark cartilage's efficacy. Scientists discovered that sharks can develop several types of cancer, and studies began to show that shark cartilage might not have been all it was cracked up to be.

Even though sharks aren't immune to cancer — and a diet of pureed or powdered cartilage doesn't provide a cure — shark cartilage may still have some medicinal uses. Cartilage has some molecular properties that could be useful in future medicines. For example, it has a close-knit structure that is hard for cancer cells to penetrate. For now, though, experts recommend patients stick to clinically proven treatments when fighting cancer.

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