Life Extension Magazine®

Issue: Mar 1999

Shark Cartilage a Useless Treatment

The Foundation continues to provide timely and accurate information on the latest therapies.

Scientifically reviewed by: Dr. Gary Gonzalez, MD, on January 2021.

Bill Faloon

Life Extension Foundation members were informed four years ago that shark cartilage was ineffective in treating cancer. We obtained this information by conducting a survey in early 1995 on people who had purchased shark cartilage from us.

The results of the survey showed that the cancer patients using shark cartilage had either died, their disease had progressed, or they were using too many other therapies to ascertain whether shark cartilage was doing them any good. We published this article at a time when every other alternative newsletter and magazine was touting the purported benefits of shark cartilage for treating cancer. Our reporting of this story did not win us any friends in the shark cartilage industry, but it sure saved a lot of cancer patients from wasting their money on a therapy that was not living up to expectations. More important, it saved the lives of cancer patients who would have relied on this worthless therapy to treat their disease. What we reported in 1995 was confirmed in a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology (1998, Vol 16, No 11). This study evaluated the effects of shark cartilage on 60 terminal cancer patients. The results showed that shark cartilage did not produce tumor shrinkage or slow the progression of the disease.

This is not the first time The Foundation exposed a lethal misconception in the field of alternative medicine. In 1983, we sent out an emergency notice to our members alerting them to avoid vitamin supplements that contained iron. We had uncovered evidence at the time that iron could increase the risk of cancer, atherosclerosis and a host of other degenerative diseases. Since 1983, studies on human populations show that iron is even more dangerous than what we originally published. A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology (1998; 148:445-451) showed an astounding 88% reduction in the risk of heart attack among men who had donated blood just once in the prior two years. The scientists speculated that blood donation may protect against heart attack by reducing levels of iron in the blood. Other human studies show that the greater the amount of iron in the blood, the higher the risk of cancer. While The Foundation issued its emergency notice 16 years ago, the majority of multi-vitamin supplements still contain questionably high levels of iron.

So is membership in The Life Extension Foundation worth $75.00 a year? If you were a cancer patient in 1995, you would have saved thousands of dollars and possibly your life because you would have learned that shark cartilage was not an effective therapy. If you were healthy in 1983, you would have avoided dietary supplements that contained free radical-generating iron.

Each month, Foundation members find out about new scientific discoveries that can keep them alive longer and in better health. ere are lots of sources for health information, but we'd like to think we are different. Our track record of accurately telling members what to take and what to avoid is unparalleled in the field of alternative medicine. We take the money you send us and spend it on research aimed at achieving an indefinite extension of the human life span.There will be several major breakthroughs announced in 1999 in the field of slowing human aging. Our organization will continue to do everything possible to make scientifically validated therapies available to Foundation members in time to preserve their youth and save their lives.

William Faloon
Vice President
Life Extension Foundation