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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Shark Cartilage Supplement

Research spotlight from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM):

Shark Cartilage Supplement Does Not Extend the Lives of Lung Cancer Patients

With more than 40 brand-name products, 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 reports of "miracle" cures in cancers treated with shark cartilage.

Researchers recently announced the results of an NCCAM and National Cancer Institute co-funded clinical trial showing that a shark cartilage supplement did not improve the overall survival of patients with lung cancer.

Charles Lu, M.D., and colleagues at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center conducted this phase III randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial at cancer centers throughout the U.S. and Canada.

The researchers were trying to see if a shark cartilage supplement, AE-941 (Neovastat), would shrink or slow the growth of cancer in patients with stage III non-small cell lung cancer. The supplement, AE-941, was available only through the trial and cannot be purchased commercially.

All 379 patients in the study received radiation and chemotherapy in addition to a shark cartilage supplement or a placebo pill. The study team found that those taking the supplement did not live any longer than those taking the placebo. (On average, patients in the shark cartilage group lived for 14.4 months, while the standard treatment group lived about 15.6 months. This difference was not statistically significant.)

A previous NCCAM-funded study also found that shark cartilage did not benefit patients with advanced breast or colon cancer. Results of that trial are available here: nccam.nih.gov/research/results/sharkcartilage_rr.htm.

A phase III study of AE-941 with induction chemotherapy (IC) and concomitant chemoradiotherapy (CRT) for stage III non- small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) (NCI T99-0046, RTOG 02-70, MDA 99-303), C. Lu, J. J. Lee, R. Komaki, R. S. Herbst, W. K. Evans, H. Choy, P. Desjardins, B. T. Esparaz, M. Truong, M. J. Fisch.

Abstract presented at the June 2007 American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting.

More information on AE-941 is available here: www.cancer.gov/ncicancerbulletin/NCI_Cancer_Bulletin_072605/page4.

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