Shark cartilage, which has been hyped as a cancer preventive and joint-health supplement, may contain a neurotoxin that has been linked with Alzheimer’s and Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Scientists at the University of Miami analyzed cartilage samples collected from seven species of sharks off the coast of Florida. The specimens all contained high levels of a compound called beta-methylamino-L-alanine, or BMAA, which has been linked to the development of neurodegenerative diseases. Sharks accumulate the compound because of their status at the top of the oceanic food chain, consuming fish and other sea creatures that feed on BMAA-containing algae.
The findings are important because of the growing popularity of supplements that contain cartilage from shark fins. The products are widely sold and remain popular with consumers who view them as cancer fighters or as a remedy for joint and bone problems. The notion that shark cartilage can prevent cancer grew largely from the popularity of the 1992 book “Sharks Don’t Get Cancer.”
Tip: John Hickey
The article notes that a number of studies showed that shark cartilage was useless for joint problems. But, it still sold. Consumers should be aware. Anytime a product shows no effectiveness, the risk is not worth the benefit. Next, they will look at other products from sharks. But, for goodness sake, quit it with the shark fins too!