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Stephen J.LurieMD, PhD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthorPhil B.FontanarosaMD, Executive Deputy EditorIndividualAuthor
To the Editor: In their systematic quality
assessment and meta-analysis of the effectiveness of GS and CS for the treatment
of OS, Dr McAlindon et al1 did not mention
that shark cartilage serves as a major source of these products.
The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization report that virtually
70% of the world's fisheries (including shark fisheries) are fully exploited
to overexploited, depleted, or in a state of collapse.2
In the United States, which is one of the few countries that effectively manages
any of its fisheries, the number of some species of coastal sharks has been
reduced by 75% to 85% over the past 20 years.3
Sharks are caught for their fins (to be used in soup), their cartilage (to
be used in supplements), and their meat, as well as inadvertently through
the use of long-line fishing. In 1995, more than 100 million sharks from the
400 known species were killed.3 Furthermore,
unregulated fisheries in other countries and in international waters support
a thriving, worldwide gray-market trade in shark skeletons.4
In the midst of the largest global extinction since the demise of the
dinosaurs 65 million years ago, when more than 5000 species are lost per year
(10,000 times the naturally occurring rate of extinction),5
we must take special care to preserve all creatures and promote biodiversity.
Given that many currently available pharmaceutical and "neutraceutical" products
are derived from or patterned after molecules found in plant and animal species,
we must balance a respect for human, plant, and animal life and ensure that
a continuing source of effective organismal products are available for patients.
Donohoe M. Efficacy of Glucosamine and Chondroitin for Treatment of Osteoarthritis. JAMA. 2000;284(10):1241. doi:10.1001/jama.284.10.1239
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