This treatment modality is used in place of conventional therapies to treat cancer. Seek advice from a qualified physician before replacing standard cancer therapy with cartilage therapy.
What does cartilage therapy involve?
Cartilage is a type of connective tissue found between bones and joints of animals and humans. Cartilage for therapeutic use is derived from cattle, sheep, sharks and chickens, dried and crushed into a fine powder. Cartilage is given either orally in pill or powder form or as an enema. The American Cancer Society reports that cartilage taken orally does not have any effect on cancer because the active protein molecules in these products are too large to be broken down and absorbed by the human gut. Because the recommended daily dose is very high (60 to 90 grams) and has a bad taste, many people prefer to take cartilage by enema.
How is cartilage thought to treat cancer?
Angiogenesis is the process in which new blood vessels form and grow to support tissue. Because cancerous tumors require a network of blood vessels to survive and grow, angiogenesis is one of the first steps in the process of metastasis. Proponents believe that cartilage contains anti-angiogenesis factors that cut off the supply of blood and nutrients to cancerous tumors and ultimately kills them by stopping their growth.
What has been proven about the benefit of cartilage?
During the 1970s and 1980s, researchers identified anti-angiogenesis factors within cartilage. Investigators at the National Cancer Institute suggest that a class of proteins found in cartilage and bone block the actions of specific enzymes that help tumor cells invade healthy tissue. However, it is still not known which proteins are responsible for this effect. The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center performed an extensive human studies literature review of cartilage and found ten studies applicable to cancer. The studies had variable results, some reporting no response at all and others reporting tumor disappearance. The American Cancer Society reports that in November 1998, a large clinical trial of shark cartilage as a cancer treatment was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. The study found no benefit for this remedy against cancer. In fact, in June 2000, the Federal Trade Commission ordered shark cartilage manufacturers to stop making unsubstantiated claims that their products have cancer-fighting abilities, and fined them $1 million for false advertising. Currently, two large trials sponsored by the NCI are underway for further testing.
What is the potential risk or harm of cartilage therapy?
The FDA deemed cartilage as non-toxic. However, when taken orally, it may cause nausea and indigestion. Because cartilage may inhibit new blood vessel growth, patients who are still growing and/or need blood vessel development, such as children, patients recovering from surgery and patients with cardiovascular problems, are advised against this treatment. Patients with a low white blood cell count (neutropenia) should not take cartilage enemas because of the threat of infection.
How much does cartilage cost?
Cost of cartilage will vary depending on the manufacturer. One hundred capsules may cost approximately $100. This therapy is not reimbursed by insurance.
For additional information:
The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
1515 Holcombe Boulevard
Houston, TX 77030
Telephone: (800) 392-1611
Web site: www.mdanderson.org/departments/CIMER/
Note: Information about therapies is intended to help you make informed choices, not to endorse any particular therapy. The information is courtesy of "Integrating Complementary and Alternative Therapies for Cancer Patients," a handbook written as an independent study project by Heather Morein. For more information, see the full text of the handbook (PDF), including all references and appendices.