| ||Interviews with Nutritional Experts: Shark Cartilage and Cancer, Revisited:A follow-up interview ||
Interview with Dr. I. William Lane
as interviewed by Richard A. Passwater PhD
Every day I can count on calls and letters on three subjects -- one of
them is shark cartilage. Ever since William Lane, Ph.D. discussed shark cartilage
and cancer with us in the March 1993 issue and the "60 Minutes"
TV show that followed in three-to-four weeks, I have been getting requests
for more information such as how much to use shark cartilage, which doctors
are using it, are the results from the clinical trials known yet, and what
is the latest that is known about shark cartilage. Dr. Lane was kind enough
to address these questions in a follow-up discussion.
To refresh your memory, the first interview discussed how cancer grows,
how shark cartilage destroys tumors and how shark cartilage can be tested
for effectiveness. Basically, cancers that have solid tumors require a blood
supply to feed the tumors. Cartilage is tissue that contains no blood vessels
due to special proteins that inhibit blood vessel formation. These proteins
are called "antiangiogenesis" factors. This term is derived from
"anti" meaning here that it will inhibit, "angio" meaning
"pertaining to blood vessels," and "genesis" meaning
"formation of." Without blood vessels to feed the tumor, it will
The blood network of a tumor is fragile. Tumor capillaries are different
from those of normal tissues and may be considered to be "immature."
Their walls are thinner and decidedly more fragile. Tumor blood vessels
are constantly broken down and replaced by new blood vessels. When an existing
blood vessel is broken down in the presence of antiangiogenesis factors,
it is not replaced by a new vessel and the section of the tumor fed by that
blood vessel dies (necrosis).
Dr. Lane has been lecturing on shark cartilage all over the world, but we
had a chance to chat again during the first week of November at the American
College for Advancement in Medicine (ACAM) where I was speaking on the latest
in antioxidant research.
Passwater: Dr. Lane, in mid-February 1993, the "60 Minutes"
TV show reported on your research with shark cartilage and 29 Stage III
and Stage IV terminal cancer patients in Cuba from late 1992 through early
1993. The story was rebroadcast in July of 1993. Did the "60 Minutes"
show aid or hinder your research efforts?
Lane: The "60 Minutes" show didn't aid my research efforts
but it seems to have added credibility to shark cartilage therapy. It also
opened the doors for an Investigative New Drug (IND) application with the
Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The "60 Minutes" show was
better than a peer-reviewed journal article because they did their homework
to prove that it worked. In fact, they spent $350,000 on doing that 12 minute
segment including relatively large expenses to ensure that they weren't
getting caught in a fraud -- especially with the CBS Network's leading program
and its star, Mike Wallace. So, they studied everything including where
I went to school and if I actually graduated. They went to Cuba with me
four times to see the patients and that is what convinced them. At the beginning,
they saw that the patients were not able to get out of bed. After six weeks
they saw the patients starting to stir. After eleven weeks, they saw the
patients with major tumor reductions On the fourth visit, after sixteen
weeks they were taping Mike Wallace running around the track with this prostrate
cancer patient who couldn't get out of bed 16 weeks earlier.
Now remember, these patients were diagnosed as being terminal by two physicians.
They were "stage four" patients who were not expected to live
six months. The remarkable thing is that as we speak, it has been two- and-a-half
years after that study started. To get one to live eight months is almost
impossible. It has been 2-l/2 years now and half of those patients are completely
normal people today-- running, walking, bathing, swimming. All the brain
cancer patients responded; only nine of the 29 patients died of cancer.
Of those 9 that died of cancer, they all died in the first 17 weeks. Since
that time 6 others died but not of cancer; two in accidents, two had heart
attacks; pneumonia, but not cancer -- and 14 of them are normal.
I returned to Cuba last Spring as part of the filming of a documentary now
on my research called "The Politics of Cancer; A study in chaos."
. While I was there the movie team and I visited with seven of the patients.
One of them -- a woman who had a 24-pound tumor -- had me to her home. She
broke down and cried and said, "Dr. Lane, without you, I would have
been long gone. I never would have seen my home or my children again. Here
I am again back with my family. It was heartwarming.
The" 60 Minutes" show did my research a lot of good, but it had
a bad side as well. Bad because it suddenly brought in about 30 new competitors.
Some of them are good products but some of them are not. It seems odd that
something that took me years of research to develop took others less than
two weeks. You can't even run tests in two weeks! Yet, there were 30 new
products on the market in about two weeks. Half of these "overnight"
products were half sugar. There seem to be more sharks on the land than
there are in the ocean.
Passwater: Does "60 Minutes" plan to do a follow up on
Lane: To my knowledge, "60 Minutes" has never in their
history done a follow-up. They did the story on my research twice, which
is itself is remarkable, and when they did it, it was the promo piece each
time, They are following the work. I talk to Mike Wallace periodically.
Whether they ever do a follow-up is hard to say. It's not their style but
in the same token they are still very much interested.
Passwater: What has been the National Cancer Institute's (NCI) response?
Lane: NCI is still saying "we still don't know about it,"
" it's no good," " the Cuban study was worthless," "come
to us with a $2 million study, fully documented, and we may look at it."
NCI is still very negative. The support that I have gotten is from the FDA.
The FDA, especially the New Drug Application Department, has bent over backwards
to cooperate with me. There is an Phase II Investigative New Drug (IND)
study underway for Cartilade(tm) led by Dr. Michael Rothkopf. Now the FDA
is telling me that they will give the "fast track" to a new product
that I am researching called BeneFin(tm). We plan to have the submission
stage underway before the end of 1994. We will be submitting for IND approval
for Kaposi's Sarcoma which is a tumor-like situation common in AIDS patients,
as well as for prostate cancer.
Passwater: You mentioned following up with the Cuban patients. Do
you have much follow-up with patients taking shark cartilage?
Lane: I am involved with some patients first hand as part of clinical
trials conducted by various physicians. I also refer a lot of patients to
doctors who use shark cartilage in their treatments. I have to rely on these
patients or their doctors calling me to let me know what is happening. This
is second hand and is never very accurate. Each week I get receive an average
of 20 to 30 "God Bless You, Dr. Lane, for keeping me (or their loved
ones) alive letters. I have kept a file. In fact in my new book called "Sharks
Still Don't Get Cancer," I discuss several cases that are complete
with the proper documentation from the medical community. We're finding
tremendous effect on brain cancer; in fact, I'd say we're getting almost
100 percent response on various types of brain cancer.
Passwater: How about ovarian and breast cancers?
Lane: We don't see that many ovarian or uterine/cervical cancer cases
any more. Years ago there seemed to be more. It's breast cancer that is
increasing alarmingly in the U.S. Now you will find the uterine and ovarian
cancers in the underdeveloped countries presumably because the men don't
wash as much so women have more infections which are believed to increase
the risk of uterine and ovarian cancers. In our society we get less cancer
percentage-wise in that part of the human body. I am a consultant for many
physicians who use shark cartilage in their therapy for breast, prostate,
brain, and lung cancers and most other solid tumors.
What breaks my heart is that my office also gets a lot of calls from multiple
myeloma, Hodgkin's and lymphomas which I can't help. I tell you it makes
you cry. I try to insulate myself not to talk to the patients because I'm
not a medical doctor. Sometimes my assistant who takes many of the calls
tells me that I have to take a certain call because it is so pathetic and
I try to help them by referring them to one of the doctors on my list. I
have set up a network of doctors in different areas of the world to which
I refer patients. In fact here at the American College for Advancement in
Medicine (ACAM) meeting where we are talking, I have added 20 more doctors
to my network.
Passwater: The word about shark cartilage eliminating tumors in stage
III and stage IV terminal cancer patients is getting around among holistic
physicians. Are orthodox physicians using shark cartilage therapy to any
Lane: I estimate that twenty - to- twenty-five thousand people are
using shark cartilage therapeutically around the world. Japan and the entire
Far East have become a gigantic market for shark cartilage. As big as the
United States is, it can't hold a candle on a per capita basis to some of
these other markets. It's because the conventional doctors are slow to try
it. If they get sick or their wives gets sick or their children get sick,
I get a phone call. But most physicians don't use it for their patients.
Since no large drug company is involved, their is no sales person or "Detail
man" calling on the doctors.
Some of the physicians that do know about the benefit of shark cartilage
are still afraid to use it on their patients. I can understand this in a
way, and it bothers me in another way, because they take an oath to help
their patients but they seem more concerned about possibly being sued. There
are ways they can get around that. They can suggest to the patient --"Look,
we can't help you but there is something else and I'll be happy to monitor
you." In that manner, the doctor isn't at risk of a suit, but most
of the doctors aren't even willing to go that far.
We are talking here in California at the ACAM meeting. I have spoken in
California, the Los Angeles area maybe twenty times in the last three years.
Telly Savalas died of advanced prostrate cancer. No excuse, as we get 90
percent response on prostrate cancer; did his doctors try it? No! They just
let him die. Dr. Linus Pauling and I had an hour talk two months before
he died . He heard about my research and he wrote to me. At the end of our
talk he said, "Dr. Lane, you've got something that is good; I know
it, but I have devoted my life to vitamin C and I would find it very hard
not to follow along with it." What's the answer? I don't know. People
are humans and every human has to make his or her own decision.
Passwater: Can patients call you to help locate a doctor near them
that is trained in using shark cartilage therapy?
Lane: I have set up an information service with an 800 number (800-742-7534)
People who call will be sent a list of the 15 most asked questions and their
answers about shark cartilage. Then if they want to follow up we will check
the list of doctors in the network for doctors in their area or nearest
their area. The problem is there is always someone who will call from a
town where there is no one trained in shark cartilage therapy. It's a matter
of life and death so even if there isn't a local doctor trained, I recommend
that the patient travels to where there is a doctor trained in shark cartilage
therapy. There just isn't one in every town or in every city.
Passwater: Not yet. How do you train doctors in shark cartilage therapy?
Lane: It's hard. Most of them are so locked up in orthodox medicine,
but I can tell you it is changing. My research was just written up in "Oncology
Times" which goes strictly to oncologists. The article was only lukewarm,
so I wrote a letter to the editor. They printed it on Page 2 in the October
1994 issue and they printed it in its entirety. So we are getting through.
It takes time but alternative medicine has made more strides in the last
two years than it has made in the ten previous years.
Passwater: You have researched shark cartilage for many years and
developed the product. It has been more than a year since our first Whole
Foods discussion. What have you learned about shark cartilage since then?
Lane: Well, I developed that original product five years ago and
I think it was a great breakthrough in that we helped a lot of people. That
the product worked but like anything else, further research leads to improvements.
When helping physicians treat cancer patients using shark cartilage therapy,
the big problem was that we might start 10 patients on it, but only one
or two would stay on it because the of the taste and odor. In Australia
I discovered a new technology when I was there presenting my research to
a major big health conference.
This new technology uses a "good" bacterium to clean shark cartilage
of flesh including the blood vessels and the nerves in the channel in the
backbone. In addition, this new technology is even able to clean the cartilage
without having to cut off the fins that stick out of the backbone. When
cartilage is cleaned by hand, these fins have to be cut off. But, these
fins contain a lot of the antiangiogenic activity. The good bacterium used
in the new technology only removes the shark meat and not the cartilage,
so those fins stay on. As a result, a product has now been developed, called
BeneFin(tm) , which is about 35-40 percent more effective antiangiogenically
as an inhibitor of angiogenesis. Just as important, it has a major reduction
in smell and odor and has no aftertaste at all. The aftertaste of shark
cartilage made by the old method caused nausea in many patients and was
the major reason why patients discontinued its use. In addition, the new
process is around 30-35 percent less costly because there is little manual
labor involved as the bacterium does the work.
Passwater: Since you use a bacterium to clean the product, some readers
may be concerned that the product may be contaminated with bacteria. Would
you please comment on that?
Lane: There are good bacteria and there are bad bacteria. The lactobacillus
strains are good bacteria and this a variation of those strains. Still,
the product is almost sterile and this is achieved without heat or chemicals
-- not even ethylene oxide, and without irradiation as these processes could
harm the fragile antiangiogenesis (angiogenesis inhibiting) factors in the
shark cartilage. As I said, the problem has been the taste and odor. The
bad taste and odor are partly caused by the blood vessels and nerves of
the backbone that can't be removed by mechanical cleaning, and partly by
the high bacteria load which has been on the product. The bacteria count
can be in the trillions which are killed in the end, but all the time they
have been alive they have been making toxins. These toxins are not removed
and those toxins and plus all these dead bacteria bodies result in a distinctive
taste. It's fine to kill the bacteria at the end, but it's a lot better
to keep the product basically sterile throughout and not have the toxins
and dead bacteria accumulate.
Passwater: In our March 1993 discussion, you educated our readers
on the Chick Chorioallantoic Membrane (CAM) assay. Now you are relying on
the Quantitative Endothelial Cell (QEC) assay. Please tell our readers about
this test and why you use it?
Lane: I stopped using the CAM assay about a year ago because there
was such inconsistency with results. Fertile eggs must be used and there
is great variability in the length of time that the eggs have been fertile.
Another factor that causes variability is the egg of the hen. Whether or
not the hen has just started to lay eggs or is at the end of her productive
cycle makes a difference in the CAM assay. I found too much variation and
In the QEC assay, which has been developed and is being used in California
by one of the top universities and a professor who has worked on shark cartilage
almost as long as I have worked on it. Shark cartilage works by stopping
endothelial cell development. Endothelia cells are needed to make the walls
of the blood vessel. If you stop the formation of the walls of the blood
vessel, you stop the formation of the blood vessel and you stop the feeding
mechanism which brings about the necrosis. Basically, the QEC assay uses
known amounts of cultured endothelial cells divided into aliquots to which
known amounts of test materials and standards are added. These aliquots
are incubated for three days. After three days, you go back and weigh the
endothelial cell cultures and compare the results to the standards and controls.
You then determine if the growth of endothelial cells in the control culture
was good. If it is normal, then we proceed with the test and assign the
control a relative value of 100%. Next we measure the test cell cultures.
Let's say that the product we are testing produced very modest growth, which
means the inhibitor worked pretty darn well. You give that sample a gradation
based on the its comparative weight. So the QEC assay is a very accurate
We have done this measurements on only two products so far, but we will
do it on all of the major shark cartilage products being sold. We did it
on the new product BeneFin(tm) and we did it on the product that was the
standard before, a product called Cartilade(tm). We have shown that the
BeneFin(tm) is about 35 percent more effective based on the QEC test, and
we have it now on two evaluations. I will evaluate another seven or eight
products when I return from this meeting. I am particularly interested in
seeing if any inhibition results from a product from Canada that is being
marketed that is about 99-l/2 percent water. The manufacturer claims that
if you take seven milliliters of their liquid, it produces the same results
as 100 grams of shark cartilage powder. It sounds preposterous and I have
found the patients are dying on that one and so I'm going to be sure to
evaluate that one. I'm going to evaluate all of the major shark cartilage
products by this comparison. This test is an expensive test but it's a very
meaningful test and I take the position that before a product is sold to
someone in a life and death situation, the patient that is putting out the
money deserves to have the person who is selling it to him or her do some
research. Concrete evidence is needed, not just saying it's good. I want
to provide meaningful evidence for comparison to the people who spend the
Also, I am hoping to get some human studies going pretty quickly, in China,
possibly in Russia, possibly in Malaysia and then hopefully in the US we
will have FDA approval we'll have the U.S. studies with the FDA's approval.
In the meantime, I will have QEC assays and bacteria evaluations which are
the only evaluations provided on shark cartilage products. Additionally,
human clinical trials have now been arranged for breast and uterine/cervical
cancers in Mexico to start in January 1995 at the Contreras Clinic.
Passwater: Are you still seeing good results with shark cartilage
on rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis?
Lane: Yes, it's amazing. When you are treating cancer, you often
find improvement in other diseases the patient has as well. Many of the
patients in the Cuba study had either psoriasis or rheumatoid arthritis.
While these patients were being treated for cancer, all of sudden after
four weeks, the psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis just disappeared at that
high dosage rate. Patients of those diseases who do not also have cancer
will be helped at a lower dose, but it will take longer. So, I am now suggesting
about 30 grams a day for psoriasis patients and I am finding people are
responding beautifully. I mean that within four to five weeks it's a different
person. With rheumatoid arthritis, you can't reverse the knurled knuckles,
but you can ease the pain. If there is a pinched nerve, the shark cartilage
doesn't help, but if it is angiogenesis as you find in a lot of rheumatoid
arthritis patients, shark cartilage has a good affect.
Passwater: While we are discussing the amount to take, let's review
your recommendations for cancer patients.
Lane: In all of my previous research with shark cartilage, and the
clinical trials on non-responsive advanced breast and prostate cancers,
including the FDA IND now underway, a dosage level of one gram of shark
cartilage for each kilogram of the patients body weight (about one gram
per each 2.2 pounds of body weight) has been used. Routinely, this level
has shown promising results with many desperate cases. This dosage level
is significantly higher than the dietary dosage recommended on shark cartilage
labels which are intended for nutritional dietary supplement purposes. For
patients with extremely advanced cancer, some doctors have nearly doubled
the dosage to almost one gram of shark cartilage for each pound of body
weight with good results and no observed toxicity or side effects. As I
said, some patients don't like the taste and don't like to take that much,
so perhaps the new product can be used in lesser quantity because it is
more effective. Hopefully, the Mexican study about to begin will give more
information tying the QEC assay to human clinical trial results.
Passwater: Are there any tricks to help the patient tolerate the
Lane: The new product tastes much better, but generally when shark
cartilage is taken orally, it is mixed with a pulpy juice such as pineapple,
tomato or apricot nectar. Up to 20 grams (4 level teaspoons) of shark cartilage
powder is blended in a mechanical blender with 6-8 ounces of juice to make
a frothy and aerated "shake." This is taken three or four times
daily, usually before meals.
If taken rectally via a retention enema, use 20 grams in 3-4 ounces of body
temperature water. It is introduced into the lower rectal area as a free-flowing
slurry using a 3-4 foot hose from an enema bag or a kit is available from
Real Life Products at 800-547-6649 (* check last digit could be a 7). Often
a few drops of aloe vera added to the slurry produces a smoother mix. Load
3-4 large (60-80 cc) plastic syringes with the slurry, insert one end of
the hose into the rectum, and squeeze the loaded syringes through the hose.
Laying on one side for 25 minutes allows absorption. Remember, this is a
retentive, not evacuative, enema.
Passwater: When can a patient expect to see results?
Lane: Many patients, learning of remarkable results for cancer patients
being treated with shark cartilage, anticipate immediate, dramatic improvement
in their own condition. After a week or two of treatment, they often become
disappointed when expected improvements are not noted; immediately they
cease continuing with shark cartilage and miss an opportunity that may save
Similar to every other cancer treatment, shark therapy does not produce
immediate improvement in a patient's condition. Occasionally patients will
experience an improved quality of life as early as the fourth week. However,
with advanced cancer, results are rarely noted in less than six-to-eight
weeks. I cannot stress enough the need for patience. Remember, it took years
to develop the cancer and this is a biologic response which takes time.
As the quality of life continues to improve other results follow -- continued
reduction of pain, tumor size reduction and tumor morbidity (tumor death).
As I mentioned in our first discussion, this tumor encapsulation has been
confirmed by examination and the "Swiss-cheese" effect can be
observed by Magnetic Resonance Image (MRI) and Computer-assisted Tomography
Passwater: Dr. Lane, your research is an amazing story, one of the
most important advances in alternative medicine as well as in the nutrition
and health food arena. We will all be awaiting the FDA IND and Mexican clinical
trial results. Thank you for keeping us up to date.
All rights, including electronic and print media, to this article are copyrighted
by © Richard A. Passwater, Ph.D. and Whole Foods magazine (WFC Inc.).
|Richard A. Passwater, Ph.D. has been a research biochemist since 1959. His first areas of research was in the development of pharmaceuticals and analytical chemistry. His laboratory research led to his discovery of......more||