Can shark powder help fight cancer?
According to believers in alternative medicine, pills of dried shark cartilage can cure cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, macular degeneration, Karposi sarcoma, diabetic retinopathy, enteritis, glaucoma, arteriosclerosis and anal pruritus.
"Studies on this product are rare and the number of subjects is insufficient to draw conclusions on its efficiency," explains Isabelle Halley, a third year undergraduate pharmacy student, who is currently taking the compulsory Phytotherapy course of Professor Jean-Louis Brazier.
At the beginning of the semester Professor Brazier asked students to write down one question on any natural health product. "I kept the 30 best questions and they became the subject for their term papers," said Prof. Brazier.
The result was that students presented their findings on omega-3, soy, vitamin supplements, ginkgo bilboa, echinacea and ginseng to name but a few. Student Isabelle Halley found two clinical studies on cancer and shark powder. "We found two clinical studies which explored cancer treatment. In both cases, we didn't note an improvement in patient survival," she said.
"It's the third year that I organize this type of presentation. But this year, we invited students from the Faculties of Medicine and Nursing to come explore our findings. Dozens came, which shows the interest people have in this topic," explains Prof. Brazier.
Six out of ten Canadians use natural health products. There are over 14,000 of these products and merely 1900 have been approved by Health Canada. It's a market of 4 billion dollars a year.